United Airlines, eBay, Intuit, Twitter, Netflix, Verizon, Motorola, and even the IRS, were all affected by a broad Web outage on Thursday.
United Airlines’ website, United.com, was out of commission for much of the day, for example. The airline was forced to send emails and push out media on social media rather than its website. “We’re working to restore our IT systems as quickly as possible,” the airline tweeted about midday.
In some cases, large sites went down in bits and pieces.
In Netflix’s case, it was “down for service” that the company had been experiencing a problem with — but that service returned about an hour later.
Intuit, which makes personal-finance applications TurboTax and Quicken, had trouble loading customers’ computers. Some users of Verizon’s website had difficulty accessing their accounts. The IRS issued an alert on its Twitter account.
How bad was it? The BBC reported that Ireland’s telecom regulator said it was investigating how the outage happened.
The outage was widely noticed as Twitter lit up with jokes and wry comments about how tech companies sometimes can’t get it right. “While many of us were having a blissful afternoon, some users of Verizon and eBay could only watch their fingers vibrate in frustration,” wrote The Christian Science Monitor’s Cheryl Casone.
David Hathaway of the Open Technology Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group, told The Verge that the outage was the result of a “billions-dollar investment” in technology, and noted that three high-profile global retailers — Amazon, Alibaba, and Rakuten — have all recently faced major problems.
“This is definitely not standard operating procedure for the Internet,” he said.