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‘Uh oh. What’s happening here?’

Nov. 20, 2020
by Mark Ollig

At around 6 p.m., Nov. 11, I went to my YouTube TV account and clicked on a news channel.

Instead of seeing my selected broadcast, a circular, loading buffer icon appeared on the computer’s display screen – and it wasn’t going away.

“This isn’t good,” I thought.

I then opened a new browser tab, went to my YouTube Premium website, and clicked a video.

For paying $12 per month, YouTube’s “Premium” website will not interrupt your video viewing with those recurring advertisements.

I stared at the computer screen while the YouTube Premium website showed another continuous circular loading buffer icon.

“Uh oh. What’s happening here?” I said to myself.

I then realized Google, the owner of YouTube, is having a big problem.

YouTube and YouTube TV websites’ front pages loaded successfully; when I clicked on a specific video or television channel to watch, it didn’t load.

Fortunately, Twitter was working, so I went to the @TeamYouTube account, where they had posted this message: “If you’re having trouble watching videos on YouTube right now, you’re not alone – our team is aware of the issue and working on a fix.”

Wondering how wide-spread the outage problem was, I opened a new tab and went to the Downdetector website, which shows the current status of popular web and social media sites.

Downdetector reported users began to experience problems with YouTube starting just before 6 p.m.

The outage was mostly affecting users in the United States.

The United Kingdom, South America, Canada, Australia, and Southeast Asia also reported problems.

By 6:30 p.m., nearly 300,000 reports had come into Downdetector, saying they could not access YouTube or YouTube TV.

I assume many more thousands without service had not reported it, based on the number of posting complaints to YouTube via Twitter.

The Twitter hashtag “#YouTubeDOWN” was now trending and being used to post complaints and stress-relieving humor about YouTube being down.

Some of the Twitter messages included:

“Did I really just search up how to fix YouTube in YouTube?” tweeted (@TubeEditz).

One post by (@sarcasm_world_) showed a photo of a person lifting their laptop cover a few inches and then peeking in at the screen, saying, “Me waiting for YouTube to fix itself.”

One Twitter video shows a girl shaking their head and anxiously moving both hands in a circular motion saying, “YouTube watching me restart my phone 15 times knowing damn well it’s their problem,” posted (@xplodeddiper).

One photo, posted by (@TinaDevixxx), showed a person looking in a mirror with a painted clown face saying, “me deleting and reinstalling YouTube five times just to find out it’s down.”

“I kept turning off and on my router, refreshed the browser, reinstalled the app and what not ... Then, I googled and realized that it’s not my problem,” tweeted (@vaishnoraj).

The following tweet on #YouTubeDOWN seemed to sum up how many felt, “So, 2020 killed YouTube now,” posted (@Swaee8).

Many folks tweeted they switched from their smartphone’s cellular data network to a Wi-Fi connection in an attempt to resolve the issue, without success.

Others were turning their smartphones off and on, while some uninstalled and reinstalled their YouTube app.

After nearly two hours, my YouTube Premium and YouTube TV websites began working again.

The @TeamYouTube Twitter account reported: “And we’re back – we’re so sorry for the interruption. This is fixed across all devices & YouTube services, thanks for being patient with us.”

As of this writing, YouTube has yet to reveal the cause for the outages.

Once YouTube began working, I started seeing Twitter messages expressing relief, appreciation, and thanks.

YouTube is reportedly the most-visited website in the world, second only to Google’s search engine.

In 2006, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Today, YouTube’s valued at $160 billion, which turns out to be a pretty good return on Google’s initial investment.

The Downdetector website is at https://downdetector.com; its Twitter account is @downdetector.

Stay safe out there.


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