When Facebook goes down, the Internet barely blinks

Facebook went down for a few hours last night, causing people to turn to Twitter to complain, quip and mourn. But despite the outsized reactions from the site’s 901 million users, the web itself barely felt the shock of losing the largest social network on the planet.

Facebook’s traffic profile during yesterday’s outage.

A quick check with Sandvine indicated that Facebook’s faltering didn’t lead to any noticeable traffic dip unlike, say, the huge drop off in traffic that occurred worldwide when digital file locker MegaUpload was taken down. The reason is simple. Facebook deals primarily in words and images, as opposed to video. By the end of this year, video traffic will comprise more than half of the global web traffic according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index that came out this week, so when YouTube (s goog) or a Netflix (s nflx) has a hiccup, any ripples on the web look more like waves.

No Facebook? The Internet didn’t see a change in traffic.

It also looks like Facebook spent a bit more time down later in the evening, as indicated by data from Apica, a web performance startup. It shows that Facebook struggled over the course of last night into the early morning hours between midnight and 3 a.m. PST.

Apica’s chart showing Facebook’s downtime throughout yesterday evening.

Facebook moves fewer packets even as it managed to connect millions. Sandvine estimates that Facebook is the 11th most popular application on the Internet, accounting for 1.5 percent of total traffic. On mobile sites, the social network is third overall in popularity (behind YouTube and HTTP) accounting for 10 percent of total traffic. It just goes to show that some web giants aren’t actually giants on the web.