Facebook Connect enables third-party websites to implement features of the social network on their own sites. An issue with the Facebook Connect API caused visitors to sites that use the API -- who were also logged in to Facebook at the time -- to be hijacked and redirected to an error page. The event lasted only a short time, and Facebook brushed aside the issue with the following statement: "For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third party sites. The issue was quickly resolved and Login with Facebook is now working as usual."
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But however brief, the glitch raises questions about businesses' increasing use of -- and reliance on -- Facebook.
"The bug clearly demonstrates the pervasiveness of Facebook Connect throughout the Web," said Jake Wengroff, founder of social business consultancy JXB1 and a contributor to The BrainYard. "While this issue doesn't demonstrate a serious security breach, it shows how widespread the use of Facebook credentials is when accessing website content."
Facebook took a lot of heat about the issue on, well, Facebook and other social networks, but Alan Lepofsky, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research, provided a reminder that outages and problems like the one that Facebook Connect caused on Thursday are part and parcel of leveraging any cloud service and that companies need to weigh the benefits with the risk.
"Yesterday's error illustrates the impact that a reliance on Facebook -- or any cloud service, for that matter -- can have on other companies," said Lepofsky. "When something goes wrong with their servers or their API, it impacts possibly thousands of organizations, without the ability for those companies to fix the problem themselves. On the plus side, due to their size and expertise, a large cloud vendor like Facebook should be able to fix a problem faster than a company's own IT department may be capable of. In my opinion, the benefits of working with cloud-based integrations outweigh the occasional issue that may occur."
What do you think -- do the advantages of using cloud-based services outnumber the potential risks? Let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
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