Facebook’s Apology Over My Head – But Maybe I’m Not The Audience…

Facebook had an outage yesterday that apparently created a lot of angst for users. Not being a heavy user, I didn’t actually experience the outage, or even know about it, until I came across the apology issued by Facebook. It started out like this:

“Early today Facebook was down or unreachable for many of you for approximately 2.5 hours. This is the worst outage we’ve had in over four years, and we wanted to first of all apologize for it. We also wanted to provide much more technical detail on what happened and share one big lesson learned.”

Good start – here’s what happened, we want to apologize, we want to tell you what happened. But, from this point on the message seems to “devolve” into techno-speak. Here’s the next two paragraphs:

“The key flaw that caused this outage to be so severe was an unfortunate handling of an error condition. An automated system for verifying configuration values ended up causing much more damage than it fixed.

“The intent of the automated system is to check for configuration values that are invalid in the cache and replace them with updated values from the persistent store. This works well for a transient problem with the cache, but it doesn’t work when the persistent store is invalid.” (It continues…you can read it all here.)

Huh? I can certainly understand all of the individual words used in these paragraphs (well, most of them, anyway…), but when strung together like this they make me feel like my eyeballs are going to start bleeding.

Oddly enough, when I scrolled down to see if others had the same response, I was surprised to find that they seemed to think the message was great – in fact as of 9/24 at 2:50 central time 857 people “like” the post.

Wow! Apparently I’m not representative of the target audience. Which is okay. The good things about this message are:

1) That they issued an apology (as evidenced by the many thankful postings from Facebook respondents).

2) That they provided enough (IMO *more* than enough) detail about the problem to satisfy their loyal users.

As a communicator, I’m still not convinced that the techno-speak was the right approach – but at least 857 people seem to disagree with me. What do you think?

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