Facebook Bug Leads to Bogus Account Suspensions

By on 17 Nov 2010, 14:56 GMT

Numerous users, predominantly female, ended up with their Facebook accounts disabled yesterday because of a bug in one of the site's automated security systems.

Users who found themselves locked out of accounts they had for years, expressed their grief about the whole situation on Twitter.

Many were annoyed with the fact that Facebook asked them to send a scanned government-issued ID in order to prove their identity.

This appears to have been an automated message and it is one of several methods Facebook uses to confirm that users are who they claim.

The problems were caused by a bug in a system used by the company to detect and disable fake accounts used in activities that violate its terms of service.

It's interesting that longstanding users were affected, because abussive accounts usually tend to be newly registered and have little activity associated with them.

"The bug, which was live for a short period of time, caused a very small percentage of Facebook accounts to be mistakenly disabled.

"Upon discovering the bug, we immediately worked to resolve it. It's now been fixed, and we're in the process of reactivating and notifying the people who were affected," an official statement released by the company reads.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at antivirus vendor Sophos, pointed out that with Facebook's 500-million user base, a very small percentage can actually mean a lot of accounts.

The possibility of a large number of users being affected is also reflected in the fact that "facebook account disabled" rose to be a "Spicy" search topic on Google.

"Hopefully the problem can be resolved sooner rather than later - and won't require thousands of women to scan and upload sensitive documents to Facebook."

"Even if other data is obscured, there's still a risk as you can imagine electronic copies of these sensitive identification documents lurking on users' hard drives for months if not years after this incident is long forgotten," Cluley said.

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Facebook bug locks numerous users out of their accounts
   Facebook bug locks numerous users out of their accounts