The Social Media Addiction - Should You Give it a Second Thought?
Test and Monitor | Posted April 17, 2013

At around 10:00PM (EST) Monday night, 18 of the websites from our industry benchmarks experienced errors related to Facebook login. The errors manifested as HTTP errors and lasted for about 15-minutes. Many of the sites are significant Web destinations, including: 1800Flowers, Burberry, Calvin Klein,, Coach, Digg, Discovery Health, Four Square, GiltGroupe, Living Social, National Geographic, Office Depot, Pineterest, Posterous, SimplyHired, ToysRUs.

Unlike the Facebook login outage from earlier this year, there appears to be no reference to this event except on downrightnow, which does show a widespread outage at around this time.  Perhaps the terrible events in Boston on Monday dominated the conversation rather than this short-lived, and comparatively innocuous, issue.

Nonetheless, these errors did occur, and during that period we received HTTP 500 errors for this request/response pair from all 18 websites experiencing errors.

Request headers

Response headers

Social media has revolutionized the way people interact with each other. It has also paved its way into the business world, and nowadays almost every website uses the Facebook login, or one of the other social media login options. Social media is becoming the central point to attract people and therefore is considered to be a bridge between the customers and the businesses. So now, the question is: How much are you willing to risk your accessibility by depending on their services?

Here are some things to think about when using any of these login alternatives:

  1. Know your options. Almost all of the big social media services offer a login option that you can leverage for your users. You can easily research their downtime metrics by accessing any of the API analytics websites out there or by comparing their downtime history on
  2. Make sure you test and monitor any third-party APIs used by your Web experience to ensure you know when they have been compromised.
  3. Code your site carefully to ensure that the critical information on your pages loads even when your third-party information/service is unavailable. For example, most websites implement third-party services like Facebook login as iframes to avoid negative impacts to user experience during such conditions, and this seems to be the case for the sites we observed. The purpose of using iframe containers for third-party data is to ensure that these things load asynchronously, meaning that your important content is not held up by issues with APIs you are integrating with.

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