Facebook has confirmed that a bug found early today in its system is responsible for automatically disabling a number of accounts on the site. According to the company, those accounts - many of which immediately took to Twitter to complain - are in the process of being reactivated right now.
Looking back in the Twitter search history and on Google, it looks like users first started noticing their accounts early this morning (or just after midnight PST) and took to the only public podium they had left - Twitter. Brian Ford first noticed the bug's widespread nature after his wife emailed him this morning to tell him that her Facebook page had "inexplicably been disabled."
"Sure enough," he writes, "she's no longer listed as a friend, and I'm no longer married 'to' Carolyn Ford - I'm just married."
Ford looked at the Twitter search and made a few apt observations:
Interestingly, every single complaint seems to be coming from female members of Facebook. The only men I see complaining are complaining on behalf of a female they know or work with.
Most of the accounts have been disabled for being "inauthentic" and several people are reporting that they can only get it back by uploading a "government issued" photo ID. Sketchy.
It's hard not to wonder if the issue could have anything to do with yesterday's announcement of a new messaging system on the site that would work using your Facebook username for an @facebook.com email address. So far, many of the complaints on Twitter report that the reason given is that the user provided an "inauthentic" name.
According to Boy Genius Report, one user has posted a full account of the reactivation instructions they say they received from Facebook:
Please upload a government-issued ID to this report and make sure that your full name, date of birth, and photo are clear. You should also black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g., social security number).
If you do not have access to a scanner, a digital image of your photo ID will be accepted as well. Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account.
A Facebook spokesperson had this to say about the snafu:
Earlier today, 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.
While Boy Genius Reports (smartly) advised readers against providing a government I.D. until Facebook confirmed, it looks now like providing a scanned image of your I.D. is indeed the way to reactivate an account with Facebook. Heck, there's even a Facebook Group protesting the practice. Who knew?