Mike Isaac

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Oops! Facebook Explains Recent Third-Party App Outage.

Facebook_FIn life and malware scares, sometimes everything doesn’t go as planned.

Such was the case for Facebook, which on Thursday explained a recent outage in a number of third-party apps on the Facebook Platform.

The gist of it: On Tuesday, a number of developers whose apps are connected to Facebook Platform were disabled with no immediate explanation. For a period of time, the devs were left in the dark, and took to online forum Hacker News to complain about the outage. After a period of time, the apps were up and running again.

Two days later, Facebook cleared up the problem. As Facebook employee Eugene Zarakhovsky explained this morning, Facebook’s security team recognized a pattern in a series of malicious apps, and the company’s automated systems disabled the apps in question. “This normally results in thousands of malicious apps being disabled and improves our automated systems’ ability to detect similar attacks in the future,” Zarakhovsky wrote.

Unfortunately for some developers, some legit apps were caught in the crossfire.

On August 13th, we undertook such a procedure. We started with a broad pattern that correctly matched many thousands of malicious apps but, unfortunately, also matched many of your high quality apps. When we detected this error, we immediately stopped the process and began work to restore access. The process took longer than expected because of the number of apps affected and bugs related to the restoration of app metadata.

While an outage of this particular nature is a rarity for the social giant, it’s still a small blemish for a company which has strongly attempted to court third-party developers to its platform over the past year.

Still, Facebook wants to make good on its screw-up, and promises to work on “better tools” so a problem like this won’t happen again.

“Our team is invested in learning from these incidents and making sure Facebook Platform stability continues to improve,” Zarakhovsky wrote.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik