As the 8 November 2016 U.S. general election wound down, social media users claimed that Canada’s immigration web site had crashed because of the results:
— Cause We’re Canadian (@MadelnCanada) November 9, 2016
On 9 March 2016, we reported on a nearly identical claim that Canada’s immigration site had crashed after a string of Trump’s primary wins. The March 2016 site errors lasted much longer than the initial search spike:
A key aspect of the rumor hinged on the number of Americans searching for ways to get out of the country on Canada’s official immigration site, but when we visited that link on 9 March 2016, a nearly identical error message appeared:
The site was inaccessible for some visitors, but connectivity problems were not necessarily associated with disgruntled voters:
Lisa Filipps, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, confirmed on Wednesday that the department’s site had failed “as a result of a significant increase in the volume of traffic,” though she gave no details about the source of the traffic. Ms. Filipps said technicians were working to restore the site. The crash added to a growing list of computer problems that have plagued the Canadian government for several years.
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration web site was inaccessible for parts of 8 and 9 November 2016. Similar rumors circulated during primary elections in March 2016, and problems with the Canadian government’s technical infrastructure were previously documented.
On 10 November 2016, the Canadian government confirmed that a “flood” of visitors from the United States was indeed what had crashed its site:
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirmed that visitors from the U.S. made up half the traffic on its website when it “started to experience difficulties” around 11 p.m. on Nov. 8. The usual proportion of visitors from the U.S. ranges from 8.8 to 11.6 per cent.
In total, 200,000 users were on the website when it crashed, compared to 17,000 users at the same time the previous week.
At the time of the crash, 37 per cent of visitors were in Canada, three per cent in Australia and one per cent in the United Kingdom.