August 4, 2014


Facebook’s 19-minute outage on Friday corresponded to a 3 percent drop in traffic at news sites, according to Chartbeat chief data scientist Josh Schwartz:

In a blog post, Schwartz observes a decrease in mobile traffic correlated with the Facebook outage:

As I discussed in my last post, a huge percentage of mobile traffic comes from Facebook. Given that, we’d probably expect mobile traffic to be hardest hit during the outage. And, indeed, entrances to sites on mobile devices were down 8.5%, when comparing the minute before the outage to the lowest point while Facebook was down.

Traffic to desktop sites, meanwhile, actually increased by 3.5 percent, Schwartz noted: “While we certainly can’t claim that the outage was the cause of that uptick in desktop traffic, the timing is certainly notable.”

Schwartz also took the opportunity to compare the drop in Facebook traffic with the drop in “dark social” traffic — “traffic to articles that lacks a referrer because it comes via HTTPS or apps.” As he writes, “one might guess that a big chunk of dark traffic is actually Facebook traffic in disguise.”

But the Chartbeat data shows dark social traffic didn’t fall off nearly as much as Facebook referral traffic did during the outage, providing “strong evidence that 84% of dark social traffic is something other than Facebook traffic in disguise.”

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Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor,…
Sam Kirkland

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