For a few minutes this evening, Facebook was redirecting users visiting dozens of websites to cryptic error pages.
The reaction online was pretty much what you'd expect, with — as the The Next Web noted — hashtags like "Facebookmageddon" and "Facebocalypse" common amongst Twitter users.
So what happened, exactly? There was an issue with the Facebook Connect API that caused users on sites that use that API to redirect users to Facebook error page.
If you were visiting any site that integrated Facbook Connect for user authentication API and logged into that site using your Facebook account (and you were also signed into Facebook), you were automatically redirected to a page that looked like this:
Exiting the page or attempting to re-access the original site would lead to another redirect. Back to this:
Sites such as The Huffington Post, Kayak, Hulu, The Daily Dot, Pinterest and hundreds of others were all impacted. The bug lasted less than 10 minutes.
In a statement, Facebook told: "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."
The bug may have been brief, but it has highlighted just how many important websites use Facebook Connect for user authentication. Over the span of just a few years, Facebook logins have become so pervasive that they are nearly second nature. It also shows that if Facebook has an issue, it can affect more than just its site — it can also impact the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of sites that integrate with Facebook's APIs.
What's interesting is that a user didn't even need to be performing the action for the error — and hijacking — to occur. Instead, simply being logged into both places (and having the accounts linked) was enough to force users off of a third-party website and onto Facebook's error page.
Google has announced a change to Google Apps for Business — ending the free version of the product, offering only its Premium version which costs $50 per user per year, regardless of the size of the company. The change was announced on Google’s Official Enterprise blog. Existing Google Apps for business users who have free accounts get to carry on without paying the subscription fee but businesses wanting to sign up from now with have to pay.
Google Apps refers to Google’s suite of web-based software services — which includes Gmail webmail and Drive for cloud storage and collaborative documents. Google is still offering individuals free versions of these software products, when they create a Google Account, but businesses no longer have a free option. The remaining Google Apps for Business product was formerly known as the Premium option, and includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime.
Mountain View says it’s making the change to simplify its offering to ensure a better fit for both groups of users, individuals and business, noting in its blog
"When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready."
Google is still offering a free product for schools and universities: Google Apps for Education. It will also be continuing to offer Google Apps for Government for $50 per user, per year.
If you’re hoping to get round Google’s paywall by signing up for a free trial of Google Apps for Business and then downgrading the account, it appears you’re out of luck: a tipster told us doing this deletes the entire account.
Update: According to an email thread posted on Hackernews, it is still possible to get a free single-user Google Apps account — by going through Google’s App Engine Admin Console
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Last year Facebook surpassed Google for the top ranking for total time spent online.
We all use Facebook on our computers, phones, iPads and every other electronic device that connects to the internet. We see pictures, videos, statuses all being updated in a fraction of a second of each other. Ever wondered what goes on on Facebook in a span of 20 minutes? Doesn’t seem too long, right? Read on and you’ll be surprised!