Facebook Code Changes Crashes Dozens Of iOS Apps – Again

Facebook has apologised for a code change that led to dozens of popular iOS and iPad apps such as Spotify, Pinterest and Tinder becoming unusable for several hours.

The apps crashed when users opened them for a period of time on Friday, leading to irate remarks on social media and a flood of reports on outage site DownDetector.com.

Facebook acknowledged the widespread crashes had been caused by a “code change” to its software development kit (SDK).

“A code change triggered crashes for some iOS apps using the Facebook SDK,” Facebook said in a statement.

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App crash

“We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

The issue affected third-party iPhone and iPad apps for several hours beginning on Friday afternoon.  There were no reports of Android apps having been affected.

Facebook’s SDK is implemented broadly across a range of mobile apps that accept the company’s logins as a way to access third-party services.

The code gives Facebook access to data on those apps’ users, and in return the company provides those apps with information on app usage and advertising.

But the broad integration means changes Facebook makes to its code has an immediate impact on a broad range of other apps.

Server call

A similar issue occurred on 6 May and led to dozens of services becoming unavailable for part of the day.

When apps using Facebook’s SDK launch, they connect to Facebook’s servers in preparation to authenticate any logins, which in this case triggered the app to crash.

As a result, opening an app while offline prevents the issue.

Mobile firewalls such as Lockdown Apps can also be used to block the server call, again preventing the problem.

Growing user concern over the large amount of server communications made by mobile apps led Apple last month to introduce new privacy features into the next version of iOS.

iOS 14 will now warn users when apps are sending their data across the internet, prompting some app makers to redesign their code.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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