This is the Internet Report: Pulse Update, where we analyze outages and trends across the Internet, from the previous two weeks, through the lens of ThousandEyes Internet and Cloud Intelligence. I’ll be here every other week, sharing the latest outage numbers and highlighting a few interesting outages.
Internet Outages & Trends
In the Internet age, we’ve grown accustomed to choice and convenience. There are a myriad of services and content sources, and new material is being created and served up all the time.
During the past two weeks, ThousandEyes observed what happens when the infrastructure that underpins this real-time content production and distribution engine breaks or otherwise doesn’t function as intended.
In the case of Internet forum site Reddit, the outage impacted the site’s core functionality, with users unable to access new threads, or to load and view new content.
Similarly, X also experienced core functionality issues with a breakage in the social media platform’s ability to redirect users to external URLs. This issue meant that users appeared to be unable to interact with the content as they normally could and information posted to the service couldn’t be verified by visiting the linked article or webpage.
Contrast this with an outage preventing users from accessing Netflix content; while, again, users were unable to access the freshest content, in this instance they seemed less fazed by the outage—perhaps because they could easily hop to another streaming service while they waited for Netflix to recover. There are many streaming video on demand (SVOD) services in operation today, and it’s common—at least in the U.S.—to be subscribed to multiple.
Read on to learn more about these outages, or use the links below to jump to the sections that most interest you:
On December 11, Reddit users were unable to load or view new content for about one hour and 20 minutes. The official status notification described the issue as leaving “many of our web and mobile platforms unavailable.” Users reported varying impacts on the web, depending on which layout of the site their account used.
ThousandEyes observed an uneven impact across Reddit’s global presence, with some geographies experiencing timeouts and unavailability, while others appeared operational. These different regional impacts may be related to whether Reddit’s CDN (Fastly) could refresh or reach content in those geographies.
For impacted geographies, ThousandEyes observed a reduction in page load times, which is consistent with not all objects of the page loading correctly. Additionally, during the outage, it appeared that all data served from Reddit was static content, with users seemingly unable to request new content.
This is consistent with user reports that they could log on, but some threads appeared blank and they couldn’t see comments. These reports—and the reduction in page load times—suggest some sort of connectivity breakage in the application’s backend infrastructure.
Netflix experienced “unexpected technical issues” on December 12 that led to subscribers being unable to access streams via connected TVs. Some users reported that the app was unable to recognize their Internet connection, and that local system verification tests could not resolve the issue.
As Variety noted, “[a]ccording to images Netflix users posted on social media, the app appeared to be getting hung up in a cycle where it was checking the network connection and verifying the user’s broadband connection speed.”
The Netflix help center suggests resolving cases like this by restarting the device or trying to re-authenticate; however, neither would have worked in this instance. This was because the actual cause of the issues appeared to be a DNS failure on Netflix’s end. Because DNS could not be resolved, it appeared that the network was down, but it had essentially just failed at that initial step.
Users seemed relatively unfazed by the issues, perhaps because it’s common for households to be subscribed to multiple streaming video on demand (SVOD) services at one time: Research suggests “the mean number of … services in all households is 4.1—compared to 2.9 in 2020.” Users may have been content to switch to one of their other streaming platforms while they waited for Netflix’s issues to resolve.
X, formerly known as Twitter, experienced a pair of recent outages. In the first, all external links included in posts failed to resolve; clicking on them resulted in an error message being displayed, claiming that the requested page was down. For other users, the problems returned 500 “internal server” error messages, timeouts, or redirect loops which also eventually led to a timeout. This particular issue appeared to last about an hour before URL redirect services were fixed.
A few days later, a second issue was observed that resulted in 400 “Bad Request” errors. While the initial outage appeared to be related to the server-side due to the occurrence of 500 errors, the second outage seemed to be a problem with the client-side. Generally, 400 “Bad Request” errors suggest that the server is unable or unwilling to process the request due to an issue with the request. This problem may be caused by issues such as an incorrectly formed request syntax, invalid request message framing, or malformed request routing.
In addition to the outages highlighted above, let’s close by taking a look at some of the global trends ThousandEyes observed across ISPs, cloud service provider networks, collaboration app networks, and edge networks over the past two weeks (December 4-17):
- Between December 4 and 17, there was a noticeable increase in outages worldwide. In the first week of this period (December 4-10), the number of outages rose from 97 to 157, which is a 62% increase compared to the previous week (November 27 - December 3). This upward trend continued in the second period, with outages rising from 157 to 175, a 12% increase compared to the previous week. The chart below illustrates this trend.
- There seemed to be a similar pattern in the U.S., where initially, outages increased before dropping in the final week of the period. During the week of December 4-10, the number of outages rose from 30 to 78, a 160% increase when compared to the prior week. However, this was followed by a 9% decrease, with the number of outages dropping slightly from 78 to 71.
- During the past two fortnights, outages diverged from the trend observed since April 2023, in which U.S.-based outages have accounted for at least 40% of all observed outages. However, the latest two-week period (December 4-17) has seen a return to this trend, with U.S.-based outages accounting for 45% of all observed outages.