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article imageFacebook bug briefly 'killed' users including Mark Zuckerberg

By James Walker     Nov 14, 2016 in Technology
A Facebook glitch last week led to many users being "killed" by the social network while they were still alive. The company described the mistake as a "terrible error." Memorial messages were displayed on profiles including that of CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The strange activity was spotted by Facebook users on Friday afternoon. It is not clear how many people were affected. Significant numbers of users reported their profile being switched into memorial mode. Facebook appeared to kill its users, asking friends to "remember and celebrate" their lives in banner messages displayed prominently on profile pages.
The glitch appeared to bypass the usual constraints around memorial accounts. Facebook will place a user's account into memorial mode upon receiving a confirmation of death or obituary. It stops the user's name and information appearing on the platform while keeping their profile visible, allowing friends and family to access their posts and photos. It was developed as an alternative to account deletion after a user has passed away.
Accounts that are in memorial mode cannot be logged into. This functionality did not activate during the duration of the glitch. Users could log in and view their own profile pages as memorials to themselves. Facebook's services continued to operate as normal, allowing "dead" people to keep using its network.
The bug impacted Facebook users including company CEO Mark Zuckerberg. His profile was accompanied by a memorial banner that read "We hope people who love Mark will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate his life." The same wording is used on all memorialized accounts.
Facebook had restored its service to normality within an hour of the memorial messages appeared, silently revoking the erroneous profile banners. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, it described the glitch as a "terrible error" that it moved quickly to fix.
"For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialized profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts," Facebook said on Friday. "This was a terrible error that we have now fixed. We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it."
Facebook has not explained what caused the bug or how it reversed the damage. It may have been triggered by a routine maintenance operation gone awry or a flawed update to the platform's profile features.
Facebook is now operating as normal. All profiles have had their correct statuses restored. The memorial messages have been removed from all accounts that are owned by living people. Accounts that were already in memorial mode should retain the banner. The glitch did not impact the rest of Facebook's service.
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