The danger of Facebook: it can kill the internet

2013-02-10_203058

One thing that has been eluding the internet is a global web identity; one identity that one can be used across all websites and forums. While inroads have been made with other services, because of its popularity, Facebook is the closest we have so far to a universal digital identity, and many websites are taking advantage of this by using Facebook Connect.

Facebook Connect is a way to allow readers of a website to login via their Facebook account. You probably have seen this crop up all over the internet. And it is this same Facebook Connect that brought down thousands (millions?) of websites this past Thursday.

You may or may not have noticed, but this past Thursday some websites were redirecting visitors to an error page, websites such as Mashable and CNN. Any website that integrates with Facebook via Facebook Connect was redirecting their readers to a Facebook error page due to a bug in Facebook Connect. This bug went on for a few minutes before Facebook noticed and fixed it.

Of course not all users were affected. According to reports, people had to be logged into Facebook and Facebook Connect for the redirection to happen. And obviously not all websites use Facebook Connect. However, there are a good number of Facebook users out there (over a billion, if Facebook is to be believed) and a good number of websites do use Facebook Connect. So, because of this over-reliance on Facebook, when something goes wrong at Facebook Connect, it affects a whole shitload of people. And a whole shitload of wallets.

Note to self: if you ever want to bring down the internet, just screw with Facebook.

[via CNN, image via dkalo]

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10 comments

  1. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @AT: While this particular issue isn’t about personal data as much as it is about bugs, I agree with you — our data is only as valuable as it is accurate.
    @JMJ: LMAO!
    @AFPhys: You are welcome! I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment otherwise I would have given you credit.

  2. AFPhys

    @Ashraf:
    Thanks for this article. I heard about the FaceBook problem last week, and in one of my comments on DotTech I mentioned it. I could not find anything about it on the news later that day or the next, though. Now it is explained much better for me. It is a good thing for everyone (even though I can’t stand FaceBook) that the glitch was apparently corrected in a few minutes.

    @mukhi:
    Agree wholeheartedly. In the past, I never logged out of my EMail or any other service like WordPress. That turns out to invite them, especially Google, to create an even greater profile of you. Now I NEVER fail to log out of GMail, and don’t look at anything else while I’m logged in to it. I get a lot less spam nowadays, and who knows what else I have avoided.

  3. AT

    Make a new account for these purposes. Use a different browser. OUR data is only as valuable as the accuracy. They don’t need to know your mobile number. Why link accounts from different networks?

    AND LOGOUT!

  4. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @mukhi: I, for one, never log into a website using Google, Twitter, etc. accounts. Too paranoid.
    @Shava Nerad: Oh, I see. Then we are essentially arguing the same point. I, too, believe the use of Facebook Connect is foolish… especially those websites that use *only* Facebook Connect.

  5. Shava Nerad

    @Ashraf:

    Yup, I’m not saying you got it wrong, Ashraf. I’m saying they got it wrong. :)

    Then again, I’m also that lone voice in the wilderness telling people to think very hard about cloud services…heh… Just this crazy person in the corner with the sign that says “Repent sinners! Your slack will bite you in the butt!”

    Actually my great fear is that their slack will rain crap on the just and the unjust, and there’s just nothing for it. Ah well….

  6. mukhi

    @Shava Nerad: unfortunately, for many of the folks it IS the internet. many of us tend to log on to different sites by using FB/twitter/google/you name it a/cs just for the sake of ease. i used to do this until i realized that those websites are spamming my a/cs later. for example, to win a product offered by a site, if i ever twitted, the home page of my twitter got filled up with shitloads later (and, it is very difficult to delete them altogether unless you completely unsubscribe using your settings panel). this is why i no longer allow any commercial thingy to be tagged with my FB/google a/c.

  7. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Shawn: Hehe
    @Shava Nerad: I quote from the article:

    Of course not all users were affected. According to reports, people had to be logged into Facebook and Facebook Connect for the redirection to happen. And obviously not all websites use Facebook Connect. However, there are a good number of Facebook users out there (over a billion, if Facebook is to be believed) and a good number of websites do use Facebook Connect. So, because of this over-reliance on Facebook, when something goes wrong at Facebook Connect, it affects a whole shitload of people. And a whole shitload of wallets.

  8. Shava Nerad

    Even sites that use FBConnect don’t usually depend on it because of the sizable cut of folks who still do not use Facebook (or won’t link their FB identity with their use of other sites).

    So this doesn’t bring down the Internet — only the herd of people mostly teens to 30-somethings who think that the Internet revolves around Facebook. These people are very similar, I think, to the people who used to think that “media” was the equivalent of commercial television a generation ago.

    Does the term “glass teat” or perhaps “boob tube” mean anything to you? Same crowd.

    It’s not the Internet. It’s the internet through the lens of Facebook. Please differentiate.