Facebook acknowledged a bug that knocked several thousand accounts belonging to women offline Tuesday. "We discovered a bug in the system designed to detect and disable likely fake accounts," Facebook officials said in a statement.
"The bug, which was live for a short period of time, caused a very small percentage of Facebook accounts to be mistakenly disabled. Upon discovering the bug, we immediately worked to resolve it. It's now been fixed, and we're in the process of reactivating and notifying the people affected."
It's not known why the bug targeted only accounts belonging to Facebook's female members, and the exact number of accounts impacted remains unclear. But even a small percentage of Facebook's 500 million member user base could add up to thousands of members.
On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was sorry for the incident while speaking at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. "I apologize to those users for that bug," said Zuckerberg. He said the glitch was not related to the new, enhanced messaging system that the company rolled out Tuesday.
"It was not related," said Zuckerberg, adding, "I think we were able to get them back on the site."
Facebook also noted that some users may have to prove their identity in order to reactivate their accounts. Some of the affected users said the social networking site asked them to upload scans of documents that could be used to verify their account, such as a driver's licence.
Facebook introduced the new messaging system on Tuesday. It's a hybrid system that looks to combine IM, texting, and traditional e-mail into a single platform. Facebook members can now request their own, @facebook.com accounts.