Spotify, TikTok, and other popular iOS apps were crashing due to a Facebook issue

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Countless iOS apps experienced problems launching Wednesday evening, according to multiple reports on Twitter and crowdsourced user reports on Downdetector. The issues seem to have started around 6:30PM ET, and Spotify, TikTok, Pinterest, Tinder, and more were affected, according to Downdetector. I personally experienced problems with Spotify and GrubHub, but they are both working for me now, so it seems apps are starting to starting work as normal again.

The issue was caused by an apparent problem with a Facebook software development kit (SDK) tool that’s used to power sign-in features for many of the apps. Many developers reported problems with the SDK in this thread on GitHub. You didn’t need to be logged into the apps via Facebook to be affected by the crashes — I wasn’t able to open a fresh install of Spotify from the App Store, for example.

“Earlier today, a new release of Facebook included a change that triggered crashes for some users in some apps using the Facebook iOS SDK,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

A source with knowledge of the situation told The Verge that Facebook had disabled a server configuration update that triggered its SDK to cause apps using it to crash. In the GitHub thread, a user who appears to be a Facebook engineer said the company had reverted the server side change causing the issue and that the change may take time to propagate.

The below tweets from developer Guilherme Rambo summarize the situation, and Rambo also offers a suggestion about what Apple could do to prevent something similar from happening in the future.

Apple has not replied to a request for comment.

Update, May 6th, 11:42PM ET: Added statement from Facebook.

Comments

So that’s what was happening. So even if you’re not using Facebook logins, the SDK reaches out to Facebook. Nice.

I thought it was an iOS 13 problem when my Spotify keep crashing this afternoon , sorry Apple

Technically, it was.

Not according to the article:

A source with knowledge of the situation told The Verge that Facebook had disabled a server configuration update that triggered its SDK to cause apps using it to crash.

Did you not read the article?

One more reason to stay as far away from Facebook as possible. Like I needed another reason.

If a Facebook issue can affect other apps, then there is a architectural problem with iOS

There have been multiple articles about this in the tech press. The simple fact is that this was a problem within Facebook, not iOS. Go read, because you’re just plain wrong about this.

This is not happening on Android and all of those apps that were mentioned, or other platforms. So clearly it is an issue with iOS overall.

Apple always has to come out smelling like the proverbial rose all the time. Even when Apple has done many bad things in the past themselves.

That would explain the growing flood of posts in the support forum regarding apps crashing.
Facebook really is just awful

The cynic in me is laughing at it, but the tech nerd in me is disappointed in the whole setup they have going.

Can someone give us a technical rundown of wtf happened? If I include jQuery in my website and jQuery’s servers go down, that won’t stop my website from working… as long as I don’t use a CDN. Were they using FB account kit as an anti-spam measure?

I’m confused how a native app you download wholesale can crash on installation or stop working when you use non-federated username and passwords

FB SDK phones home regardless of if the dev uses it. The response was changing an integer to a Boolean to check for the health of the app. Swift is kind of type heavy and crashed every app. You could prevent the crash by blocking Facebook on your DNS server.

Sounds like poor integration testing… But not sinister

Couldn’t third party logins be entirely managed server-side like they do in regular web pages? Or is it that developers rely on analytics tools from Facebook et al embedded in those libraries (while also leaking all sorts of data to Facebook)?

They can, but as you say, doing it with a network API instead of a binary linked SDK means they can’t scrape all the user data Facebook loves so very very much.

All the developers should just remove any connection to Facebook from their apps. #RemoveFacebook

Good luck! I hate Facebook as much as the next guy… But developers have been getting practical recently and buying into anything that works… Closed source GitHub? Okay! Centrally managed NPM? Why not! Teach community hostile frameworks like React in college? Go for it! Name entire departments after closed source beurocratic lawsuit happy parasites like Oracle? Of course!

No fallback? A simple try-catch block could have prevented this mess.

That’s bad coding practice. It would have just masked the issue.

I’m not familiar with the Facebook SDK, but sometimes that’s everything you can do when using a close-sourced SDK.

sounds like cable. cut service until they get their price increase when contract need renewing.

You didn’t need to be logged into the apps via Facebook to be affected by the crashes

So the app tries to reach Facebook even if you’re not logged in on facebook ?
Let’s make a list of those apps

every single app and webpage that has a like button or use facebook to log into. basically everything

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