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Facebook Bug Deactivates Many Accounts, Throws Messaging Future Into Doubt

On Monday, we voiced our concerns about the security implications of Facebook’s newly announced messaging service. Today, those concerns take new shape as a Facebook bug has erroneously deactivated a number of accounts on the social networking site.

According to Read Write Web, Facebook (Facebook) has confirmed that a bug that went live today was designed to find and disable accounts that seem fake. The social networking site is apparently working to fix the issue and to get those accounts up and running.

Boy Genius Report says all complaints made via Twitter about deactivation seem to be coming from women, who have been told that their profiles are “inauthentic,” and have been asked to scan and upload ID in order to get their accounts back in action. According to BGR, this is the message users are receiving:

“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.”

We’ve reached out to Facebook to ask whether this is an official message or not. In the meantime, we suggest holding off on the scan-and-send if you’ve been affected by the bug. All Facebook says that this is indeed a way Facebook confirms accounts, but we still advise you to be careful with your personal information.

In the wake of this bug, we’re apt to look askance at Facebook’s new messaging system, which asks users to group all forms of communication into one platform. If the site wants to truly become a destination for messaging, bugs like this (and past, more egregious bugs) have to be mitigated.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto (iStockphoto), Antagain

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