Desperate US Facebook users dialled 911 during outage

When Facebook went down last Friday (August 1), some US residents reacted by phoning their local police department in horror, it has emerged.

Problems on the social network were only experienced by some of its users and only for a short amount of time, at around 4PM UK time, but that didn't stop a higher than usual number of incidents being reported to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The outage affected both the main Facebook site and other websites that allow you to use Facebook as a login, such as Instagram and Skype.

Facebook reassured its users: "Facebook is currently experiencing an issue that is affecting all API and web surfaces. Our engineers detected the issue quickly and are working to resolve it ASAP. We'll update shortly."

When the calls became too much for the department to handle, L.A. County Sheriff sergeant Burton Brink tweeted his followers to urge them not to contact the department.

#Facebook is not a Law Enforcement issue, please don't call us about it being down, we don't know when FB will be back up!Sgt. Brink (@LASDBrink) August 1, 2014

He told Fortune magazine: "We get phone calls all the time, whether it be Facebook going down, people getting wrong orders at fastfood restaurants, or their cable TV going down. But with Facebook in particular, we get calls probably because it's such a widely-used thing."

This is the second Facebook outage in a month. When the service went down on 19 June, it was reportedly the longest outage Facebook has experienced since 2010 at 31 minutes and is said to have cost the company half a million dollars (300,000).

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.