Tech platforms, brands on a roll as FaceBook, WhatsApp, Instagram crash

By | October 6, 2021

Yesterday’s outage of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp has had a drastic effect on brands hoping to use the platforms during one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Scores of companies, including Woolworths, Telstra and MYOB say they will be changing their campaigns to avoid the crash.

“The timing for these outages also couldn’t have been worse with $14 billion spent by Australians alone last year in Black Friday sales,” said Ometepe Digital director Justin Morris. “This is going to cost companies that run online campaigns.”

While Facebook was back up around noon yesterday, around 2 million Australian users were unable to access either platform from 8.30am overnight. The time directly coincided with what was expected to be a peak period for online sales on Friday, as Australians rush to beat the Boxing Day deadline.

The failure was caused by an overload of messages which pushed the servers over capacity and forced them offline, according to Facebook.

Despite this, Telstra said it had not experienced any issues with its site yesterday despite earlier concerns about its website being able to handle the expected traffic. “We are seeing large amounts of traffic coming into telstra.com yesterday but we don’t believe that it’s related to any outage impacting other organisations,” Telstra group managing director of networks Mike Wright said in a statement provided by spokesperson Matthew Jones.

The impact on local brands has been major. Woolworth’ campaign ran throughout last night but it struggled with issues early this morning.

“There were some hiccups yesterday but it didn’t really affect the Woolworths campaign too much,” said Stephen Corbett, founder of marketing tech company Click Stream. “Generally, it’s been very good for Australian companies that are doing well on Facebook.”

Corbett said Telstra had used its outages as an opportunity to target new customers rather than existing ones who may have missed the deals they were after. The telco giant did not respond to queries about whether or not there was a spike in free data usage due to people being unable to access sites elsewhere. Unsurprisingly, Instagram has seen a massive spike in traffic since last night because of all the brands pulling their ads from Facebook and Whatsapp.

Instagram has gained more than one million new users in 24 hours, according to social media agency Mumbrella, with many brands moving their ads over the photo sharing site.

“For most of the users who didn’t get access, they will have gone to Instagram instead,” Mr Morris said yesterday afternoon.

A Facebook spokesperson explained that it had been working through technical difficulties overnight and this morning but was back online mid-afternoon.”People around the world were unable to access our apps and services for a brief period of time today due to server configuration issues,” he said. “We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back at 100 per cent.”

Late last night, Whatsapp also confirmed that it suffered an outage, which the company put down to a server issue.

As of yesterday afternoon, Whatsapp was still struggling with problems, despite Facebook claiming it had been resolved. About 5 million Australians actively use Whatsapp each month according to Nielsen’s most recent survey. A spokesperson told Fairfax Media that users were experiencing “difficulty” sending messages this morning but said the problem had now been resolved.

The outage also coincided with Telstra’s announcement that it would be unveiling its National Broadband Network plans on Friday. According to one source, the telco giant may have pre-emptively released some details in an attempt to capitalise on the outage while many customers were offline for part of today’s shopping frenzy.

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