Here in the digital age, the internet has become a significant part of our daily lives. It is almost a necessity. We can use it for different purposes. Through the internet, we can communicate with our loved ones, no matter how far they are. Furthermore, we can use it for educational purposes and research. The government has also utilized websites to connect with their people. Many businesses had made their own websites as well. They use it to increase their reach, advertise their services, and sell their products.
Currently, the global pandemic is still ongoing. Generally, people cannot get out of their homes. Else, they would be susceptible to catching the virus. So, websites and web services are needed more than ever. They let people do things in the comfort of their own homes.
Naturally, a loss of connection to such services would cause an outrage. Unfortunately, an incident like that happened just recently. On Tuesday morning, June 8, 2021, many countries are greeted by the words “Error 503 Service Unavailable” or “Connection Failure.”
What Are The Websites That Experienced The Downtime?
A vast range of websites was affected by the outage. Among them are big websites like Reddit, Spotify, Twitch, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google. News and media websites titans The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent, and the New York Times were also affected. Paypal and the Canadian website Shopify are among the e-commerce and finance websites that experienced the problem. Service monitoring website Down Detector also recorded 1,700 reports of outages of Amazon Web Services.
The websites have identified that the problem is linked to Fastly, a cloud computing services provider.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are systems used to host websites and their content on the internet. Also called content delivery networks, they have geographically distributed networks of proxy servers and their data centers. The purpose is to alleviate the performance bottlenecks of the internet. CDNs do this by providing high availability and performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users.
Fastly is one of the world’s leading CDNs. The company boasts its powerful edge cloud platform that could help developers build the most groundbreaking apps. Fastly’s services provide speedy connection, reduction of cost, enhanced security, and flexibility. The CDNs services are of high caliber. Thus, many websites choose them as their host.
However, there is nothing on the internet that is invulnerable to problems and downtime. Fastly experienced this on Tuesday. And since many websites are under their banner, inevitably, they get affected too.
Fastly admitted to being the cause of the outage. “The issue has been identified, and a fix is being implemented,” the American firm said on its service status page. The affected websites then gradually came back online. However, the loading time is still slow. It took time before the issue was fully resolved.
Effects Of The Problem on Twitter Followers
Connection loss like that has massive effects, considering how reliant we are on the internet. It causes inconvenience and economic loss. This hurts Twitter Followers, and these followers often rebel against the system to make up for lost time and money. Influencers who rely on stable growth resort to buying Twitter followers to make up for the lost time when the Twitter services go down.
We use social media sites like Twitter to connect with friends and family. Public figures also use them to reach out to their people, fans, or audience. Losing that ability to connect alone is already problematic. So what more when you cannot even do search queries? It causes so much frustration, especially to those whose livelihood is on the internet. Take Twitch streamers, for example. They get their money from their viewers. So, the unavailability of the website, even for a few hours only, affects their financial income. Likewise, online shops lose sales. That is most unfortunate for sellers whose products are demanded in large geographic locations.
Economic Loss Caused By Connectivity Failure
As stated above, many businesses suffer from loss of connectivity. For every second that passes, 40,000 search queries are made on Google worldwide. That is equal to 3.5 billion searches a day or 1.2 trillion searches per year. Each of those queries and subsequent actions generates a ton of cash. So, the economic impact is bigger than you would expect.
The question is, on a larger scale, what country will suffer the most?
UK firm Merchant Machine was curious about this. So, they did a study to find out. The team took an in-depth look at how much financial loss the world will experience and which countries will take the hardest hit.
Their study revealed that the world’s economy would suffer a $2.1 billion loss in just one hour without connection to the internet. Then for 10 hours, the figure increases to $21.1 billion and becomes $52 billion for a whole day. That is a whopping amount of money.
Merchant Machine also identified the top 10 countries that will be affected.
At the top of the list is the United States. The US is at risk of facing the biggest financial loss due to an internet shutdown. Being the home of Silicon Valley, where several tech companies and startups reside, that is to be expected. In a 24-hour outage, the US will lose over $7 billion.
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China scores second place. The country is the most populated in the world. Expectedly, the number of users there is higher than in any other country. They are almost 1 billion. So, this is not surprising at all. China is foreseen to lose $5.6 billion in a 24-hour shutdown.
The rest of the list, in order, are as follows: United Kingdom, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, India, Switzerland, and South Korea.
Aside from countries, Merchant Machine also identified what online companies would be affected most.
Coming in the first place is the titan company Amazon. A single minute without an internet connection worldwide will cost the company a whopping $700,000.
The founder of Market Machine stated that our dependence on the internet increases day by day. He says that many business and government bodies would be unable to carry out their daily activities without a connection to the web. That was proven during the incident on June 8. Let us hope for occurrences like that never to happen again.
How Much Money Is Wasted When Twitter Services Go Down?
Our ancestors’ lives were simple but challenging. They had to rely on wooden and stone tools to do activities that would help them survive. They have to go to the woods to hunt animals so they will have something to eat. Furthermore, they have to go on explorations to acquire new resources they can use to improve their daily lives.
Fortunately, we do not have to experience those things. We have the internet. Through different websites, we can order food or buy products not available in stores near us. We can do those things and so much more in the comfort of our own homes. We do not even have to break a sweat. All it takes is a few taps and clicks.
Aside from getting materials, we can use websites to learn. There are several sites whose content contains valuable information. Also, social media and news websites exist to inform us about current events. The former can also be used as a source of entertainment.
To summarize, there are so many wonderful things on the internet that make our lives more enjoyable and convenient. For that, internet access became almost a necessity. If you do not have this privilege, you will be left out.
But what happens when several websites simultaneously go down or offline?
The June 8 Outage
On the morning of June 8, internet users were surprised when they experienced major issues with several sites. Needless to say, they are frustrated when they cannot open websites or cannot access key features.
For instance, in Amazon, all images have disappeared. So, how would the users know how the products look? The same problem happened to Twitter, where the use of emojis and multimedia bugged as well.
More than 2000 people reported they are experiencing problems accessing Amazon to outage tracker Down Detector. Likewise, at least 12,000 people have flagged an issue with the social news and entertainment website Reddit. “Fastly error: unknown domain: www.reddit.com. Details: cache-lcy19260-LCY”- the screen would flash when trying to access the website. More about this later. Spotify and Twitch also experienced outages.
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Those are only a few of the many websites that were affected by the outage. In the UK, users were unable to secure connection with HMRC, and even with their government website – gov.uk. When trying to, they are met with the message “Error 503 Service Unavailable”.
Figuring out why that happened was difficult, too, since Google also experienced a problem. Furthermore, news websites like the Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, and the New York Times were among those affected websites. Even the French newspaper Le Monde and middle-east based Al Jazeera were included.
Aside from the government, news, and entertainment websites, businesses also took a hit. The Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify experienced downtime along with the online payment method, PayPal. Of course, those who advertise products through social media networks like Instagram also suffer.
That day felt like a very long day for a world that had become very dependent on the internet.
The Cause of The Problem
Remember the error message when trying to access Reddit? The first words said Fastly error. It was an indication that the root of the problem was in Fastly.
The Guardian’s technology editor, Alex Herm, also identified Fastly as the cause of the problem. Several websites seconded that statement.
Fastly is one of the world’s leading content delivery networks (CDN). A CDN is a network of proxy servers and data centers. Their purpose is to deliver easy availability and fast performance on websites when users visit them. They are the ones that host the websites. So, if CDNs encounter a problem, many websites under their service get affected.
Fastly is still small compared to their competitors like Amazon’s AWS. Still, Fastly’sr excellent services made it one of the widely-used cloud-based content delivery network providers. The amount of trust given to this company was seen on June 8. The error in their system caused problems to so many websites, which indicates how popular Fastly is. The company advertises itself as a powerful edge cloud platform. They promise to provide tools to optimize the speed, security, and scale o apps and websites. Twitter chose Fastly; CNN and other big companies did too. That shows that Fastly delivers what they promised.
So, how come an outage still occurred? The thing is, nothing on the internet is invincible to having issues – minor or major. Fastly identified that the cause of the problem was a disruption from a “service configuration.” That is all they said. But, on their service page, they posted the message, “The issue has been identified, and a fix is being implemented.” Sure enough, the affected websites gradually went back online, albeit with slow speed. Admittedly, many companies suffered monetary loss during the outage, and there is no way to bring them back. Still, fortunately, the problem was not caused by a denial of service attack (DoS), for that would be even more detrimental.
Should You Worry About It Happening Again?
The incident caused frustration and even panic. But there is no need to be worried. Incidents like this are rare. It would take a long time before something like this happens again. If anything, it has proven how strong the internet is. The unfortunate event showed how fast the internet could recover. Ben Wood, the chief analyst at CCS Insight, thought so. Also, technology is ever-changing. It does not stop from evolving. So when that time comes, when the internet breaks down again, fixing it will be twice as fast as before. Who knows, maybe the problem could even be identified before it affects anything.
The incident could also be viewed positively. You could see it as a reminder that our lives should not revolve around the internet, even in the digital age. If more people did that, issues like this would not be as big of a deal. Still problematic, yes, but less frustrating.