Facebook had a rare hiccup last evening leading to surprise, complaints—and more than a few jokes about its stock price. The site was sluggish or completely down for millions of users for close to two hours, during which many social media addicts turned to Twitter to complain. "The site so rarely encounters loading problems that the outage has come as quite a shock to some," noted Josh Constine at TechCrunch.
But even a brief outage carries a big cost for Facebook, which can't make money if users can't see ads, Stacy Higginbotham points out at GigaOm. If the site is "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," Facebook stated in the "risks" section of its IPO filing. The fictional version of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network explained it differently. "If those servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed!" he ranted. "Users are fickle, Friendster has proved that."