A weird thing happened on Thursday night. Anytime you clicked on a link — or most of the time anyways — some strange Internet force directed you to an error page on Facebook. The URL is full of weird randomly generated code, but it's definitely a Facebook page. You can even check your notifications even though you didn't even want to visit Facebook. No, this is not a conspiracy. In all likelihood, it's a bug that will be fixed within the hour. (Unless, it's not, in which case things will get very interesting.) If you need to use the Internet before then, simply log out of Facebook, and you should be good to go. (UPDATE: It's fixed, now.)
Folks that understand how these Internet things work have quickly surmised that the bug must be related to Facebook Connect, the ubiquitous, one-click log-in feature that you've been using much more than you though you were. Others have guessed that it's a Like button issue. If either theory true this would mean that every time you're redirected by this bug or whatever it is, you're heading to a site that's controlled by Facebook. We couldn't have said anything so dramatic yesterday, but today it's become painfully apparent. CNN, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post — they're all down.
Facebook rules the Internet. We clicked three links in a row and got the error page three times in a row. Just think: When's the last time you signed up for a website that didn't use Facebook Connect or have a Like button somewhere. There are few corners that it does not touch, and if you don't use Facebook you should be fine. But if you do, whether you read your News Feed or not, Facebook can ruin your Thursday night of Internet surfing any time it wants.
People are obviously upset about this. Just look at all the tweets:
The Fundamental Problem With Depending On Other Sites For Basic Yet Important Functions, Or: LOL Facebook— maura johnston (@maura) February 8, 2013
No sudden moves. This is for your protection. RT @scotteweinberg: Is Facebook taking over? Is it like Skynet time? Should I get under desk?— Sam Gustin (@samgustin) February 8, 2013
Wow a Facebook bug has taken down CNN, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Slate, BuzzFeed, Gawker and Kickstarter... buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/face…— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 8, 2013
and just like that, Zuckerberg’s zombie-computer army takes over the world. Facebook Virus: Day Zero— Roberto Baldwin (@strngwys) February 8, 2013
East coast spared as snow storm is redirected to Facebook.— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) February 8, 2013
when i try to log out of facebook, it redirects me to a page saying "log in to facebook" i give up— Rembert Browne (@rembert) February 8, 2013
UPDATE (8:49 p.m.): Shortly after the problem was resolved, Facebook released a statement. "For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third-party sites to Facebook.com," it read. "The issue was quickly resolved, and Login with Facebook is now working as usual."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.