Marketplace glitch locks users out of Facebook

28 Apr 2017

Getting locked out of Facebook has got to be one of the worst punishments in the social media age. But, that’s what happened this week. The apparent cause: a glitch in Facebook Marketplace.

The problem started with a Facebook safeguard to fight fraud, the U.K. newspaper Daily Mail reported. Before selling an item on Marketplace, users must verify their identity by submitting a picture of themselves.

But rather than delaying the sale, the glitch locked some users out of Facebook entirely for 72 hours. Some users told the Daily Mail that they’d been prevented from accessing Facebook for more than a week, while others claimed that they’d never used Marketplace at all.

One Reddit user, identified as Tangsta1, explained what happened to him. He was posting a bike for sale to a group and Facebook asked if he wanted to link the post to Marketplace. He was then asked for a picture to identify himself before receiving the 72-hour ban.

The debacle led to a hashtag trending — not on Facebook (since users were not able to login) but on rival Twitter: #facebook72hours

Here’s a photo that one user sent to the Daily Mail:

Facebook has since issued a statement that the problem has been fixed.

“We resolved an issue in our fraud detection system that prevented some people using Marketplace from logging into Facebook. We have restored access to the small percentage of people who were impacted.”

Technical glitches happen — when you have 1.7 billion users, it’s hard to avoid — so we’re not about to ding Facebook the way the Daily Mail did. And the company did respond quickly, so there’s that. Chalk it up to a learning experience, some embarrassed programmers, and dramatic headlines and frantic in the British tabloids.

As one affected user told The Sun, “I live my day-to-day life on Facebook, so I’m feeling a bit disheartened. My mates are on Facebook and I like to keep up with their lives and post pictures of my dog. It’s upsetting that I can’t get on it now.”

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Brian Blum

Brian Blum covers the U.S., Canada and Israel for Classified Intelligence Report, and contributes to our special reports and research projects. Originally from San Francisco and now based in Jerusalem, he has been with the AIM Group since 2004. He is the president of Blum Interactive Media, specializing in writing and multimedia content development for online, print, video and audio. His clients include newspapers, universities and non-profits. He is currently working on a book about the billion-dollar bankruptcy of a once high-flying Israeli startup.