Yesterday, there were news stories like this one at CNNMoney.com and this one in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that some unknown number of Facebook users had been cut off from their accounts. More strangely, the users affected seemed to be all women.
I don't ever recall hearing of a gender specific software bug before.
The CNNMoney story quotes a Facebook spokesperson as saying:
"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."
The affected users - Facebook refuses to say how many made up that "small percentage" or confirm that those negatively affected were only women - received a message when they tried to log in that their account had been disabled. They were then directed to a Facebook FAQ page that told them they needed to provide credentials proving that there were in fact who they said they were.
The SF Chronicle story says users were told to:
"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."
If any of you were affected by the bug (especially if you weren't a woman), let me know. And let me know how responsive Facebook has been in restoring your account.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.