Facebook: Like An Angry Octopus Across The Web
Facebook has finally become too large for its own good, and last Thursday proved it.
Dedicated Facebook users no doubt glean some sort of functionality from Facebook Connect, the service that effectively turns the World Wide Web into Facebook’s playground. Anytime you see an option to share an article on Facebook or give your Thumbs Up of approval, Facebook Connect is there.
Last Thursday, something went awry with Facebook Connect, causing the service to yank viewers from the site they actually wanted to visit back to Facebook. Once here, users only saw an error message which read: “An unknown error occurred. Please try again later.”
“For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third party sites to Facebook.com,” read a statement from Facebook once the dust had settled.
“The issue was quickly resolved, and Login with Facebook is now working as usual.”
And it’s true…by most accounts; the issue only lasted for about 15 minutes. Some reports claimed users were affected by this outage for as long as an hour. Yet, it’s hard to feel bad for these users, as the fix was as simple as it was painless: Just log out of Facebook.
Zuckerberg’s Social Giant has got something really clever and devious going on. Unless you intentionally log out of Facebook when you’re done looking at pictures of babies and catching up on the latest gossip, you stay logged in, even when you navigate away from the page, and even if you continue your surfing in another tab. Not only does it know when you interact with one of those Facebook Connect buttons, it also knows where you’ve been in general. In the same way Google just always seems to have a deal on the item you’ve recently been looking at, Facebook can steer ads towards the kind of content you’ve recently been interested in.
For those who are dedicated to the service, who have no qualms about their privacy policies and find it completely natural to communicate in this way, Facebook Connect is a matter of sheer convenience. Your friends can automatically see which articles you like. You’re even able to log in to other Web sites with just your Facebook credentials and begin engaging in conversations all over the web. For all the tracking and data collecting it does, it’s damned convenient.
But this also means Facebook has their tentacles spread all over the web touching as many web sites as they’re allowed…and if Facebook becomes upset, (or an error occurs) everything else is affected.
Their recent 15-minute snafu should have us all thinking about the cost of their size. What if this brief little error lasted for longer than 15 minutes? Web developers would have been called in to remove all these Facebook Connect plug-ins, lest the sites go without traffic for several hours. And yet, for as large and ubiquitous as they’ve become, the cure-all is really very simple: Just log out.
You could even take it a step further and just not use Facebook, but that’s simply too much to ask of many people in this day and age.
Facebook has become too large, and by all indications, they won’t be slowing down any time soon. As such, it seems wise to begin separating yourself from the service to avoid getting caught underneath one of those angry, massive tentacles.
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