Look What Happens to Web Traffic When Facebook Goes Away

For lots of Web publishers, Facebook has become the new Google — it’s become their most important source of traffic.

So guess what happened when Facebook went dark for a few minutes on Friday?

You’re right! Traffic sagged immediately, down three percent, says Josh Schwartz, chief data scientist at Chartbeat, which measures real-time Web traffic on sites around the world.

Schwartz has more data here, including stats on what happened to mobile Web traffic during the outage (hint: Facebook has become huge on mobile, so you can guess).

But let’s stick with the big takeaway, which is simple enough that even a typer like me can understand: If Facebook brings your site lots of traffic, then Facebook can take it away, too.

In this case, the Facebook traffic hose shut off because of a technical glitch. Easy enough to fix, apparently. The truly terrifying prospect for people who need Web traffic is what would happen if the hose gets pointed in a different direction — which is why Facebook freaked out much of the Web last fall, when it talked about tweaking its algorithm.