Why Did Facebook Log Users Out in US and Europe? People Wary of Hacking Activity

On Friday, many Facebook users from the US and Europe reported that they were automatically logged out in the middle of sessions and failed to access their accounts.

Why did Facebook suddenly seem to log everyone out from the platform? A massive number of users from across the US and Europe have been asking this question as they were automatically logged out in the middle of sessions.

According to Downdetector, a website that tracks outages, a massive number of people reported that they suffered from sudden logouts. Some of the Facebook users reported being unable to reach newsfeeds or use messenger.

The unusual incident began around 7 pm on Friday, January 22 and users received the message "session expired". The outage affected both the mobile and desktop users.

Facebook logo
Facebook logs out users across the US and europe in widespread outage Reuters

A user wrote on a cybersecurity website, Malwarebytes: "I am reporting this as of now my account along with almost my whole friends list has been automatically logged out of our accounts. It is not known what has caused this as of yet please update this thread when more information becomes available."

Someone commented on the Downdetector website: "I can't get my code I have to keep resetting my password and I still can't get in Facebook." Another user said that she was logged out from both her iPhones. But she was able to log in with "one tap into one and the second with a code generator via text". The user also added that her friends from Washington, Seattle and Puerto Rico also faced the same issue.

Facebook outage
Facebook outage downdetector.com

"I haven't been able to get back on Facebook. I'm having to wait for the recovery process now. Anyone know the usual timeframe for them to recover your account?", asked another user.

While the topic became one of the top trending issues on Twitter, some users complained that they could not log back in because they don't remember their Facebook passwords.

The mass log-out made many people believe that Facebook was facing a cybersecurity issue. A Louisiana law enforcement agency suggested that the platform had been hacked and advised people to change passwords. However, the social media giant has not issued any statement on the outage.

Facebook outage

Did Security Breach Cause the Outage?

In 2018, it was reported that a cyberattack on Facebook's computer network had exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users—the largest breach in the history of the company.

The cybercriminals exploited a feature in Facebook's code to gain access to millions of accounts and potentially take control of them. As reported by The New York Times, the software flaws allowed the attackers to break into user accounts, which included Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg's accounts.

At that time Facebook explained that the cybercriminals had exploited two bugs in the site's "View As" feature, which was built to give users more control over their privacy. Those flaws were compounded by a bug in the platform's video-uploading program for a birthday celebration—a software introduced in 2017. The attackers stole access tokens, the digital keys which allow access to an account.

Even though the exact time of the attack was not known, Facebook said it appeared to have occurred after the video-uploading program was introduced. However, after the attack, the company forced over 90 million users to log out from the platform. This is a common safety measure taken when user accounts found to be compromised. So this time, when millions of users faced a similar issue, some of them thought maybe Facebook was hit by cybercriminals once again.

Related topics : Facebook Cybersecurity