For about 30 minutes early Thursday morning, reportedly a little before 4 a.m. Eastern, any of Facebook's 1.2 billion users who tried to check their accounts were greeted with the following message: "Sorry, something went wrong. We're working on getting this fixed as soon as we can."
It was the longest outage the social media site has ever suffered.
Shortly thereafter, the site was back up and running.
"Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. "We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100 per cent. We're sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused."
But the damage was already done.
In response to the outage, users took to other outlets – notably Twitter – to vent their frustration. But mainly people chose a more lighthearted avenue by mocking a culture that seemingly cannot be awake for a matter of minutes without connecting to Facebook.
Another person tweeted:
Popular humor site 9GAG tweeted:
But for all of the sarcasm, there is a degree of legitimacy in people's frustration. The site that dominates much of people's online social lives prides itself on never crashing. The idea that Facebook is always up and running is a part of the cultural zeitgeist by this point.
"Let me tell you difference between Facebook and everybody else," says Jesse Eisenberg, playing an angry Mark Zuckerberg, in the 2010 Facebook movie The Social Network. "We don't crash ever! If the serves are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed."
Perhaps more important are the concerns such an outage raises over the vast swaths of data stored on Facebook. From family photo albums to correspondences between friends on opposite sides of the world, Facebook is often the first and only place we turn to store and check up on the most personal of information.
Should that all disappear, suddenly and without warning, there's cause for worry. Imagine waking up and that box of letters your mother sent you through four years of college, or the photo of you and your best childhood friends, were gone.
What would you do? Maybe you'd laugh it off, put it behind you. But maybe you'd also be a little sad because some of your most important items, the ones that hold real sentimental value, had disappeared. Just like that.