Last week in one effortless swoop Facebook paralyzed internet mainstay websites such as CNN, BuzzFeed, Yelp and New York Magazine, among others, whose visitors were redirected to a Facebook error page. The social network’s retort to disgruntled sites and their users seemed as brief as the redirect error message.
Facebook responded with this statement: “For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third-party sites to Facebook.com. The issue was quickly resolved, and login with Facebook is now working as usual.”
The so-called ‘bug’ was traced back to Facebook Connect, the API that intertwines Facebook with the rest of the internet. Connect is Facebook’s universal internet credentials for users. It makes logging on to websites and comment threads seamless for anyone logged into Facebook while browsing. Last week’s issues made it more of a chore than a convenience, especially for third-party-publishers such as BuzzFeed that solely rely on Facebook ‘likes’ to spread content across the web.
Facebook’s no stranger to privacy issues within its own network, and stories seem to pop up about it prolifically. This latest issue with Connect is an eerie reminder about the colossal internet information machine. Facebook tools such as Connect, Graph Search, and Open Graph make use out of the treasure trove of user information that the platform controls. Major failures are eye opening instances of that, and they just might backfire with both users and third-party sites.