Users of numerous popular iPhone apps like Spotify, Venmo, Tinder, TikTok, DoorDash and Pinterest had persistent app crashes this week due to a bug in the Facebook SDK. The crash reports arrived around 6:30 p.m. Eastern yesterday, but the problem has now been resolved.
Shortly after the problem occurred, it became known that it was caused by a server-side change made by Facebook. “A new version of Facebook included a change that caused some users in some apps to crash with the Facebook iOS SDK. We quickly identified and fixed the problem. We apologize for the inconvenience,” said a Facebook spokesman The edge.
The Facebook SDK is included in apps by developers for a number of reasons, from single sign-on to users’ Facebook accounts to activating sophisticated metrics for Facebook ads. The apps attempted to communicate with the Facebook servers and then crashed. The crashes also occurred when users were not logged in to Facebook, did not have any apps created by Facebook installed, or did not use Facebook-related functions in the affected apps.
Many users are not aware that the Facebook SDK is included in most of their favorite apps and often collects data in them, or that apps like Spotify check in with Facebook servers. However, widespread reporting on the subject exposes more users to this fact, which has led to some outrage across social media platforms.
The developers were also outraged. A GitHub thread is filled with reports from developers whose apps and users were affected. “To prevent crashes in the Facebook SDK, some developers tried to comment on any code that calls Facebook,” said Halide developer Ben Sandofsky said on twitter. “Nothing worked.”
The developers were frustrated that their attempts to solve the problem themselves were unsuccessful. The only solution they had was to wait on Facebook.
This is not the first time that Facebook is causing problems in the iOS app ecosystem. For example, in early 2019, Apple temporarily revoked Facebook’s developer certificate for using an app that secretly collected data about users’ use of apps – including apps that were not created by Facebook – to help Facebook better understand its competitors help create competing apps and experiences.
“Please move slower and break fewer things,” said the user lucas-tl in the GitHub thread, which makes fun of Facebook’s old motto: “go fast and break things”.