Much of the Internet came to a standstill yesterday thanks to a silent bug that crashed any Facebook connected Website. If you were signed into Facebook and attempted to login to any site that has a Facebook sign-in option, you were redirected to an error page inside of the social network. The issue lasted for a short time, but it gave us a glimpse into the inherent vulnerabilities with the Internet today. Websites are becoming increasingly reliant on third-party services, and this dependence is dangerous in the long run.
Major news outlets including CNN, MSNBC, and even Digital Trends fell victim to the Facebook error. If you weren’t already signed into Facebook when you tried to login to a website you wouldn’t have noticed this error in the first place. For everyone else, the error message was persistent no matter what methods were used to try and bypass the glitch.
By now the error has been patched up, which Facebook confirmed yesterday with AllThingsD in the following 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.”
It’s more or less become almost a requirement that Websites integrate with Facebook Connect as a login option. Using a feature like this is a win-win for both users and the third-party developers. Facebook Connect offers users a quick way to sign up for an account without having to fill a form, and it also enables developers to access its users’ social data for targeting purposes. Except during those perilous rare moments that Facebook fails for instance, the outage can be devastating.
The entire episode begs the question: Is Facebook now at that point where it’s too big to fail? So much of the Internet is dependent on its platform for functionality and interaction that even a small feature outage warrants a strong reaction. It speaks to the value of market options, but also to the position Facebook now finds itself in and the infrastructure requirements we are prepared to be hold it to.