Facebook, the social network (in case you weren't aware) experienced a rare slippup last night that lead to users being surprised and a large number of complaints. The social network went down and for many moved very slowly for almost 2 hours. It still seems to be experiencing problems. A few weeks ago they experienced other problems with users being unable to use "Like" or "Share" buttons -- a popular feature on the site.
The hickup heated up other social networks, including twitter, where more than a few jokes were made about its 100 PE IPO stock price. As is typical on the social web, when one site goes down, users who often are on more than just that one turn to another. For the two hours many users and social media pundits used Twitter to express their disdain and complain about Facebook.
"The site so rarely encounters loading problems that the outage has come as quite a shock to some," reported AOL's TechCrunch blog. Thge costs of downtime for a site the size of Facebook are enormous. The downtime cost for Facebook is similar to that of a NYC retail store closure because of a snow storm. When the site is down they aren't making any money.
Long term impact of the site down time are more difficult to estimate though they exist. When a site such as Facebook goes down users who find it isn't available or has a slow load time are quick to move on to other similar sites such as Google+. The Social Mediasphere is a web of sites that are, for serious users, being used simultaneously.
Ironaically in the risk section of Facebook's IPO filing documents they provide that the site may at times be "unavailable when users attempt to access it, or if it does not load as quickly as they expect, users may not return to our website as often in the future, or at all."