Around 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, Facebook broke the Internet for about 15 minutes.
Early media reports characterized the outage as Facebook “taking down” a host of major Web sites. But that’s not really what happened. If you were online and logged into Facebook in one tab of your browser, and then tried to visit another site in another tab that happened to include a Facebook like button you got bounced to a Facebook error page. But there was an easy fix: You could log out of Facebook, or open up another browser. Problem solved.
Of course, for many people, it wasn’t immediately clear what was happening, which led to a lot of confusion. Why was a visit to ESPN or Salon resulting in Facebook page. The Internet sure seemed broken for a few minutes.
But the chaos and despair and mock hilarity — SKYNET HAS AWOKEN! — passed quickly, and everyone soon got back to their normal browsing business. Facebook limited itself to an anodyne response downplaying the whole affair: “For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people from third party sites integrated with Facebook to Facebook.com. The issue was quickly resolved.”