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The Great Offlining of 2021

Paul Brislen, Editor. 09 June 2021, 8:11 am

An internet outage that knocks out numerous major news outlets, several UK government websites and emoji on various social media platforms shouldn't happen in this day and age but late yesterday New Zealand time, that's exactly what happened.

Content distribution network provider Fastly, which houses Reddit, CNN, the Guardian, TVNZ, TradeMe, Radio New Zealand as well as Twitch, Pinterest, the BBC, the New York Times, GitHub, HBO Max,  Hulu, Shopify and many others, managed to restore service around 11pm New Zealand time after more than an hour out of action. Stuff, like Twitter, was not affected.

Visitors to the affected sites received a 503 error and took to Twitter to express their frustration.

While Fastly prides itself on being transparent about issues (its outages page was updated every five minutes or so during the dark time), information about what actually happened is somewhat scarce. Earlier in the day Fastly had deployed a fix to a problem with domains not being found - however, whether that's related to the outage or not remains to be seen. Fastly has ruled out any cyber attack at this stage.

While the internet was created to avoid single points of failure of this type, in practice purveyors of content and services like to maximise their investment in service providers and so it's not uncommon to find commercial bottlenecks like this springing up around the world. 

While the total outage lasted less than an hour, and Fastly's share price has already recovered any lost ground, the repercussions will no doubt ooh look, a TikTok video about a flying squirrel!


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