Tech Outage Leads McDonald's Across The Country To Shut Down Temporarily

If you're old enough to remember the turn of the millennium, chances are you have not-so-fond memories of the Y2K panic. It had everyone in a dither that there'd be a universal computer shutdown, and technology would presumably glitch us all back to the Edwardian era by failing to recognize any year beginning with "2" and "0." Well, obviously this didn't happen (much to the dismay of anyone fond of a good handlebar mustache or full-coverage bathing suit), but it did point out just how desperately dependent we are on computers to keep running smoothly. Case in point: When McDonald's experienced a system outage on March 15, not only were app users affected, but certain restaurants in countries all over the world actually had to shut down until the problem was addressed.

The outage began at 1 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, but it was first noticed in Australia where it would have been afternoon. While it took around 12 hours for the problem to be fully resolved, many locations were offline for a much shorter time. In the U.S., where the affected cities included Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Seattle, much of the impact was likely lessened by the timing. As one NYC McDonald's worker told CNN, while their location did experience a four-hour outage, they were up and running again by 5 a.m.

McDonald's denies that the outage was caused by hacking

When word of McDonald's tech woes got out, of course, it was all over social media. Rival Burger King even took the opportunity to troll its arch-nemesis once again, tweeting: "Not loving I.T." Rumors were also rife, with one of the most widespread ones attributing the cyber failure to hackers. Some speculated that the hackers might be Russian — were they trying to cut off Donald Trump from his fast food favorites to undermine his third presidential campaign? — although one Twit wit facetiously attributed the outage to "health hackers."

Company spokespeople, however, are adamant that the outage was not caused by a cybersecurity issue. Instead, McDonald's says that the fault lies with a third-party provider that oversees its technology. While the chain has been using Google Cloud for its tech hosting since late 2023, it also refutes any claims that the switchover led to its recent tech problem, so we can't say for sure whether this was a Google glitch or whether there's a second third party involved.