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Possible Major Glitch in Facebook API Detected

Update 1:23PM EST (11/10/10) – Facebook has confirmed the issue was on their end. A representative confirms in an email to SecurityWeek: We began removing the posts immediately upon discovering them and shortly after they were made.

Update 1:23PM EST (11/10/10) – Facebook has confirmed the issue was on their end. A representative confirms in an email to SecurityWeek: We began removing the posts immediately upon discovering them and shortly after they were made. They were caused by a temporary bug on Facebook that allowed certain posts requested by an application to be rendered when they shouldn’t have. Upon discovering the bug, we immediately began work to fix it. It’s now been resolved, and these posts can no longer be made. We’re not aware of any cases in which the bug was used maliciously.

Update 7:11PM EST (11/09/10) – A Sendible representative says they have spoken with facebook over the phone and that Facebook admitted there was an issue, but that they were unable to reproduce it on their end. “They’ve agreed to patch the issue by the end of the day. In the meantime we’ve agreed to remove the feature on Sendible that allows fans of Facebook pages to automate posts”

Several the Facebook Pages including those of some large brands, were sending a link to all of their followers that read “Change Your Facebook Background Here!” – The link was to “tinyurl.com/facetheme321” which directed to a form hosted at popular email marketing services provider, AWeber which could not load at the time, possibly due to capacity issues.Facebook API Flaw

An earlier report from TechCrunch reported that Sendible, a tool used by many companies to manage social media initiatives, including facebook fan pages, may have been hacked. This apparently isn’t the case and representatives from Sendible claim their platform has NOT been hacked.

We contacted Sendible for comment and they offered the following information on the incident:

1. Sendible allows you to add Facebook Pages that you’re a fan of or that you admin.

2. You can use Sendible to post to these pages via Facebook’s API.

3. Usually, these posts appear as the Facebook user and not as the Facebook page itself.

4. In this case, one of our users sent an update to a few popular Facebook pages, assuming they would appear to come from his username.

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5. Instead, they came from the page itself.

6. This is a major flaw in Facebook’s API.

Sendible contacted the user to find out if this was intentional or not and the user responded: “I wanted to post only on a few facebook walls as a fan – and for some reason, posted as the page Owner. Weird” 

Sendible also posted an update on Twitter saying, “This appears to be a bug in Facebook’s API as the posts should have been displayed as the user profile and not the page owner.”

At this point it’s unclear whether the issue is with Sendible or Facebook’s API. Sendible says it’s not them. We’re waiting to hear back from Facebook.

Update: 5:24PM EST – Looks like the link in this case was not malicious, but rather an affiliate link to pagerage.com. That being said, if a flaw in the API exists, it could possibly be used to spread malicious links.

Update 6:40PM EST – Facebook has responded but with little information other than saying they are in touch with Sendible and would let us know when they have more information to share. Facebook also said they began removing the posts immediately after discovering them and shortly after they were made.


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