A change in Facebook’s software development kit this week caused widespread crashes for multiple popular iPhone apps including TikTok, Spotify, Pinterest, and Venmo, show just how deeply Facebook has integrated itself into the other apps found on the phones of millions of Americans.
In a recent report titled “How a Facebook Bug Took Down Your Favorite iOS Apps,” Wired outlines how a recent change in Facebook’s software development kit (SDK) caused multiple popular apps such as TikTok, Spotify, Pinterest, and Venmo to crash this week.
“Yesterday, a new release of Facebook included a change that triggered crashes in some apps using the Facebook iOS SDK for some users. We identified the issue quickly and resolved it,” Facebook said in a statement.
iOS developer Steven Troughton-Smith commented on the change that Facebook made in its SDK that caused the crash, stating: “It was something like a server value—which was supposed to provide a dictionary of things—was changed to providing a simple YES/NO instead, without warning. A change that simple can break an app that isn’t prepared for it.”
Another iOS developer, Clay Jones, commented: “Pretty much all these apps—Pinterest, Spotify, a lot of the big ones—use the Facebook SDK for the login button. You’ll see ‘Login With Facebook.’ Everyone has it, super common, great for sign-up rates because it’s just a one-click thing.”
iOS security researcher Will Strafach, the creator of the Guardian Firewall app which automatically blocks online trackers, commented: “It is extremely common for apps to connect to Facebook, regardless of whether they use a Facebook-related feature, mainly for ad attribution. It’s something people are not made aware of, and what’s more frustrating is that attempting to block it will break things a user may actually want, such as Login With Facebook.”
The issue with using Facebook’s SDK is that many developers lose control over certain aspects of their code as a result. Although Jones was able to identify that the Facebook SDK was causing the crash in his app, he couldn’t do anything about it. “It’s Facebook’s code,” said Jones. “It’s not like it’s something we wrote or something we know a whole lot about. You can try to parse out what’s going on by how the code is written, but it’s not our code.”
Read the full report at Wired here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org