Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing Facebook down – the world goes home

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Over the weekend Facebook briefly went down taking away access to any linked web sites that allowed you to log in to them via Facebook. But the ensuing melange of media coverage would have had you thinking it was the end of the world. Maybe it is a warning.

There was extensive reporting on what amounted to a few minutes of inconvenience and more than enough spleen vented to keep the twitterverse busy. “Facebook error takes down countless major websites”; “A mysterious [changed in some reports to bizarre] bug with a common factor – Facebook”; “Facebook can redirect an entire web site – awesome”; “Facebook once again demonstrated that it’s a man-in-the-middle attack on the entire web”; “Facebook takes down half the internet”.

Similar Facebook glitches (polite euphemism for stuff ups) have been reported – in December many of its users were locked out of linked web sites and use of features such as “Like buttons”. But they are not alone – Gmail has on occasion prevented access to Google related sites for 30 or so minutes. However it appears that Facebook has more downs that it would publically admit. Web monitoring site Downrightnow shows an interesting story for Facebook that could portend other issues. While you are there go to its homepage to see the status of other sites they monitor.

Web developers need to understand the enormous power that they place in “portal” sites like Facebook or Gmail especially if they use the auto login feature. It also reflects the inherent weakness in relying on the cloud for everything.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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