Facebook deals with missing accounts, 150,000 angry users

Users frustrated with accounts missing for more than a week with little explanation

After a database problem knocked out the accounts of about 150,000 Facebook users for more than a week, the social networking site said today that most are now back up and running.

Despite the fix, many of the 150,000 users affected by the problem are still expressing frustration and anger with the social network.

The account problems were caused by "several technical issues" with a single database, Brandee Barker, a Facebook spokeswoman, told Computerworld in an e-mail. Barker didn't provide details on what caused the problem, but said that the issues have been corrected.

"Our engineering team has worked around the clock, and as of yesterday, all of these users should have full access to their Facebook accounts," wrote Barker, who also noted that the 150,000 accounts affected by the "technical issues" only make up 0.05 per cent of Facebook's 300 million users . "We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused and we are taking additional measures to uphold the reliability users come to expect from Facebook."

However, while the accounts may be back, some users' friend lists, photos, postings and other personal information are still missing.

"We have done our best to restore user accounts to their most recent state, but some data and settings may not be current," noted Barker. "In order to be cautious, we defaulted some users' privacy settings to their most restrictive settings. We're asking users to review their privacy settings and reset them. In addition, we're suggesting that users review content that may not be up-to-date."

The accounts started dropping off about Oct. 3, with affected users generally getting a "site maintenance" message when they tried to log on. Frustrated, many users took to Twitter to vent about their missing accounts.

One Twittered: "Actually hate facebook. my account has been "temporarily unavailable" for days."

In response to user complaints, Facebook posted a note on its site on Oct. 6, about three days after the first account was dropped. "We are experiencing a technical issue with one of our databases that is resulting in an extended period of maintenance for some of you. We are working on a fix and hope to have this resolved in the next 24 hours," noted the post.

The message didn't go over well with a lot of users who didn't see any progress over the next 24 hours or even in another week. The Oct. 6 message was facebook's only update about the situation.

"I'm starting to think the Federal Deficit will be paid off before Facebook gets my original profile back. Anybody want to take bets?" asked one user in the list of comments posted to Facebook's message.

"24 hours??? Why don't u just add a zero and make it 240 hours? At least just keep us updated," wrote another. "this is really hurting my business FB account !!! Over 7 days and nothing not even an updated message on the status? Really? Come on," wrote another user.

A few messages took a happier tone when accounts started reappearing. "back on!!! finally!!! woo hoo!!!!!!!!!"

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)

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