Facebook Brings Internet to a Halt

Last semester I deleted my Twitter and Facebook because I wanted to make sure my employers wouldn’t find anything disagreeable in my social network footprint. All of my online interactions have been either through email or LinkedIn, so I was entirely cut off from the most alarming 15 minutes of the decade: Facebook broke the Web. On Thursday around 7:30pm, some users logged into Facebook who opened up websites that had “Like” buttons were redirected back to Facebook and saw the dreaded “Error” page.
The glitch was both easily avoidable (opening another browser or logging out of Facebook), and Facebook resolved the bug. But as the Salon article points out, the Facebook network is so far reaching that it seemed to crash the Internet. I could go through my top 100 favorite websites and be hard-pressed to find one without a “Like” button. Well, that is with the exception of the Economic Theory of Networks Blog. 
The reason why the “Like” buttons carry a special property on websites is because Facebook uses the buttons as nodes. It collects data about which companies and organizations are using Facebook and which consumers are clicking “Like”.
I believe the crash revealed three important things about our current social network.

  1. As far as large components go, Facebook users comprise one of the largest. The fact that this did not just effect small independent users, but access to major websites like ESPN or the New York Times shows that Facebook is clustering all of the larger components into one, giant component. 
  2. Not in every instance, but certainly in this instance with a glitch, Facebook acted as a pivotal node. Facebook users could not access websites without being directed back to Facebook.  
  3. Facebook is mapping the network. Facebook’s seamless integration into the core functions of other websites such as Chegg.com or LevelUp have made it almost impossible to not have a Facebook account. I say almost impossible, because I have in some respects taken myself off of the grid. And even still, I am likely traceable in traffic as a node without a Facebook account. 
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4 thoughts on “Facebook Brings Internet to a Halt”

  1. This article pretty much articulated what I was thinking about Facebook recently. I was just thinking how crazy it is that I can go on any random website, and buttons like ‘post/share/like to Facebook’ and ‘Sign in Using Facebook’ are there. I didn’t think about it in terms of networks like you did, but it brings up a lot of major questions. Is it a good thing that Facebook is integrating itself into so many different third party websites, especially since that when Facebook is down, it can seemingly take down the internet with it? Or is it better that Facebook is becoming such a pivotal site? (It IS so much easier to sign up for accounts on different sites…).

  2. It is impressive how Facebook have made itself so fundamental to most company’s pages and other social media interactions. So much so that there are close to no websites that do not offer the Like link. It is almost “old-fashioned” having a website without Facebook Like link. In doing this, Facebook is increasing its own capability to a point that it will be almost impossible for any other social network to rise and compete with it; Let alone to decrease the reliability of third party websites from Facebook. For instance, Google+ which developed personal profiles and have not been able to compete with the presence of Facebook.

  3. Facebook has a tremendous market share, and their integration is the surest sign of continued success.

    I remember a time when you had to have a .edu email address to make an account on Facebook, and look back on that as the golden age of social networking. There were no ads, no games, and when you put your musical tastes in, it was not a link to an artists page that then spammed you with their news everyday.

    This new integration has many good uses, for both artists and users. But it is kind of weird when you are online shopping and you can “like” a $5 pair of socks. And people have done it. I’m clearly not the target market for this kind of product integration, because I see no advantage to the user.

    I do see tremendous advantages for the business, though. Of course free advertising is great for them, but the primary purpose is categorization of their consumers. I guess in the end that may benefit the consumer, as the spam emails they get may be better tailored to their tastes.

    I just can’t help but feel that slightly more than two decades ago (in my own lifetime) organizations like the Stasi would have gone to tremendous lengths (including torture, forced entry, hidden microphones and cameras) to find out information about people that today we give away freely. Check out the fantastic film “The Lives of Others” for what is reportedly a very accurate portrayal of this sort of surveillance, and also a great story. Again, I have a facebook and I use it frequently to keep in touch with people in the many areas I’ve lived and guys I served with who have spread back out across the globe. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this sort of integration, I just only see one way benefits.

  4. This post is very interesting. It is very true that the “LIKE” botton is on 99.99% of the websites that i go to. 1% may be maybe private sites such as bank account, emails, etc. I even attached the coding of the Like botton for my own website so that people can Like my post or website so that may lead for more people to come and see my website. This is a great way for small companies or bloggers to market themselves. Although, for people who don’t use facebook or twitter, some sorts of social media, they would be annoyed by it and see this as useless. My question and curiosity for the future is that, there has been few social media websites in the past; (maybe it was more of blog) such as xanga, myspace, etc. They have all died out after years of success. I wonder what the next stage of facebook and either facebook will continue to take control or something else will come into to take place of facebook.

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