Here's What Really Happens To Web Traffic When Facebook Goes Down

Facebook was down for a while on Wednesday. An easy assumption is that when Facebook is down traffic to other sites drops, because people are no longer being directed anywhere from the hugely popular social network.

The team over at Chartbeat, a New York City startup that makes real-time web-analytics tools, helped us figure out what really happened.

Here’s how mobile traffic across roughly 3,000 sites that Chartbeat tracks looked during the Facebook outage:

Here’s how desktop traffic was affected:

Mobile saw a very dramatic drop in overall traffic, whereas desktop traffic saw a momentary drop, but then actually had an increase in traffic.

Chartbeat’s chief data scientist, Josh Schwartz, told Business Insider in an email that he doesn’t have a concrete explanation as to why, but said that, in general, mobile visitors are much more likely to come from Facebook than desktop visitors are.

“With Facebook down, the largest source of mobile traffic simply isn’t there, and people are much less likely to directly visit most sites on mobile,” he says.

He also said that Chartbeat usually sees a large spike in desktop traffic during major events.

“While I wouldn’t call the Facebook outage a ‘major event,’ I’d guess that it’s significant enough that people would visit news sites to check in,” he says.

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