Many Facebook users found themselves locked out of their accounts Nov. 16 due to a bug in the social network.
According to Facebook spokesperson Simon Axten, the problem was created by a bug in a system designed to find and root out fake accounts. Though the issue was fixed within hours, the site is still working to restore some of the affected accounts, Axten told eWEEK.
According to Axten, the site is still assessing the impact of the bug and could not provide details about exactly how many accounts were affected, though he believes it to be “only a very small percentage.”
“When we detect that an account may be fake, we ask the owner to verify his or her identity,” he told eWEEK in a statement. “In very rare cases where no other form of verification is possible, we may ask the account owner to verify by providing a valid ID. This bug caused people to be mistakenly asked to verify through this method. We’re automatically reactivating these people’s accounts and notifying them of what happened.”
The bug apparently only affected female users on Facebook, according to reports.
“Frustrated Facebook devotees turned to the only platform they had – Twitter – to vent their annoyance at not being able to log into their account,” blogged Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “What was interesting is that all of the reports appeared to be from women or – in a few cases – men mentioning the problem on behalf of female friends and partners.”
“Reportedly many of the complaints against Facebook users were that they were using an ‘inauthentic’ name, and they were asked to upload a government-issued ID (such as a passport), ensuring that their full name, date of birth and photograph were clear,” he added.
According to Axten, the bug was unrelated to the new messaging system the company announced Nov. 15. The new Facebook Messages service allows people to communicate through Facebook using SMS, e-mail or chat. Facebook discussed some of its security plans for the new Messages feature here.