The Facebook Messages system is currently out of service globally and “will be back up shortly”, according to the error message on the social networking website. The full message reads as follows:

The Messages service is temporarily down for maintenance. We’re constantly working hard to make a better product for you. Please be patient, the system will be back up shortly.

Screen Shot 2011 10 17 at 10.22.25 AM Facebook Messages is “Temporarily Down for Maintenance”

A Facebook downtime is a rare event but for a service that now offers email, it can be very disruptive when it stops working completely without any warning. Twitter has, for the better part of its existence, suffered from its own scalability issues, but they have become a rarity in recent times—although it did see a significant downtime a couple of weeks ago.

The message from these events is that it’s always wise to not rely solely on a single provider, even one the size of Facebook, for essential services like email and to always have other communication channels open as backup.

Update: Facebook Messages is now back up and ready to do your bidding, and all is right with the world again.