This afternoon we received numerous inquiries from users who had their accounts automatically disabled. The bug happened to occur to female user accounts and reportedly thousands of them.
After receiving the inquiries, we reached out to Facebook who provided us with the following statement:
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.
Many of the Facebook users turned to Twitter to complain about the issue at which point it was picked up by a number of publications. What made a lot of the users confused was that Facebook was requesting actual photo IDs to be sent in. Here’s part of the email they were sent:
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.
While the users may have been surprised, this is actually one of the few ways Facebook has to verify accounts. This typically happens when users are blocked because hackers took over their account. As of now it sounds like a bug resulted in security measures becoming preempted. Fortunately, all those users will soon have their accounts back up and running!