Photo: National Archief via Flickr
A strange Facebook bug incorrectly identified the accounts of a number of female users as fake and disabled them yesterday.Facebook has fixed the bug and reactivated the accounts, but many of the women affected are furious about the creepy side-effects of being banned.
The main problem: Facebook asked these women to send in “a government-issued ID.”
A bizarre request, which has a lot of women understandably horrified at the prospect of sending Facebook a scan of their driver’s licenses. Worse, the women that actually did this got an automated response, telling them that their accounts would not be restored “for any reason” and that the decision was final.
We’ve seen plenty of complaints but here’s one that sums it up best:
This entire episode has soured me on Facebook — not just that this kind of bug can shut down so many accounts (and make those of us affected feel as if we’re the ones who have done wrong), but that Facebook doesn’t seem to care about helping its users, and would rather treat us like criminals than people who were caught in the middle of Facebook’s own problem. (I’m also noting how muted the acknowledgments and apologies are from Facebook, too.)
A Facebook spokesperson told us this in response to our questions about the bug:
Earlier yesterday, we discovered a bug in a system designed to detect and disable likely fake accounts. 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.
When we detect that an account may be fake, we ask the owner to verify his or her identity. 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.