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5 October 2021

How Facebook’s outage more than doubled interest in Twitter

In just 25 minutes, Google search traffic for Twitter rose by 50 per cent.

By Ben van der Merwe

When almost three billion people suddenly found themselves locked out of their Facebook accounts on 4 October, along with WhatsApp and Instagram, it seemed like good news for the social media giant’s chief rival.

“Hello literally everyone,” Twitter’s official account tweeted as users flooded on to the site. In just 25 minutes, Google search traffic for the site had risen by 50 per cent. By the time Twitter posted its comment, search traffic had doubled.

Two hours later, however, the influx of traffic would prove too much for Twitter to handle. The site’s features began to malfunction, and soon hundreds of users were reporting outages every minute. By the end of the day, Twitter shares had fallen by 5.9 per cent compared with 4.9 per cent for Facebook.

For both companies, however, the entirety of this drop in share prices occurred at the start of the day’s trading. Neither company’s shares lost a significant amount of value after 4.30pm, the point at which the outages began, despite trading for a further five hours.

Seemingly far more important for the share prices were the new allegations against Facebook by a former employee, which have prompted calls for greater regulation of the sector.

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The outages may have attracted users’ attention, but investors had their eyes on politics.

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