Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Jerod Harris | fake images
Reddit and global news websites, including the Financial Times, New York Times, and Bloomberg, experienced intermittent outages Tuesday morning, and some users were unable to access the sites.
Some visitors to the UK and US websites received the message “Error 503 Service not available”.
Amazon, Twitter, PayPal, Spotify, Twitch, BBC and The Guardian were also affected, according to reports. Tech site The Verge used an open Google doc to report on the story, though I forgot to disable editing.
The first reports of the outage began around 6 a.m. ET, but most sites were back online for users an hour later. But some sites, including the UK government website gov.uk and The New York Times, experienced slow load times and graphical problems.
US cloud computing service provider Fastly said on its website at 5:58 am ET that it was investigating a technical problem. At 6:44 am ET, Fastly said the problem had been identified and that “a fix is being implemented.” Shares of Fastly fell 1.6% in pre-market trading after the disruption began. At one point, it was down about 3%.
The infrastructure that underpins much of the Internet is operated by a relatively small number of companies. When one of them has a problem, it can lead to widespread global outages affecting billions of people.
“This is what happens when half the Internet depends on Goliaths like Amazon, Google and Fastly for all its servers and web services,” said Gaz Jones, technical director of digital agency Think3, in a statement. “The entire Internet has been geared dangerously toward a few gamers.”
When Amazon’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, encountered a problem in 2017, some of the world’s largest websites went offline for several hours across the entire US East Coast. In 2019, Cloudflare, Another CDN company, experienced a problem that lasted for about an hour and affected websites, including the Discord chat service and the OKCupid dating site.
Toby Stephenson, chief technology officer for cyber and information security company Neuways, agreed that the incident “highlights the reliance of many of the world’s largest websites on content delivery networks.”
“Since there are so few of these CDN services, these outages can happen from time to time,” he said. “When using these CDNs to deliver content to readers, these websites are usually fast and responsive, but this time they have been left with eggs on their collective faces. The technical backends of these big websites are probably fine, but they are the frontends that cannot be accessed and the content cannot be sent because the network is down. “