Facebook is an amazing social media experience but technologically, it’s a pile of crap. And it’s not the only pile of crap out there either. A lot of work has gone into making the HTTP/HTTPS protocols useful as “live” protocols when they never intended as such. HTTP/HTTPS were always intended to grab static content and deliver it for viewing, not interaction.
But this is like VHS and Betamax. VHS was worse but it won that war. The world wide web now sits atop a mess of HTTP/HTTPS code that is really problematic and often unnecessary, and which often has unintended side effects.
Case in point – I recently lost access to my Facebook account. Every time I tried to login, pages would not successfully load. I checked all sorts of things, flushed browser caches, tried four different browsers on four different machines. None of this helped. I could login to a different account fine on a given machine but not into my account.
A friend came along and mentioned that she had similar issues before and solved them by going into Settings, choosing the Security tab, then choosing “Where You’re Logged In”. Since I couldn’t even login, I wasn’t sure this was helpful, but I persisted and I finally managed to login to my account on Chrome on my HTC One smart phone. When I did, I was shocked. There were a large number of sessions, from all sorts of places. One was from the Atlanta airport in 2013 – more than two years ago! Yet Facebook still counted this as an “open” session and apparently was trying to keep it alive.
I began killing clearly old sessions. After whittling that number way down to just the few machines I use around my house, I tried to login from my desktop PC again. It worked. The laptop worked. And while I don’t always do that, it worked logging in from my work laptop as well.
So I am making this post as a public service announcement, and for myself as well. I want to preserve this reminder on somewhere other than Facebook so I can get the specifics again, should I ever need it again.
But I will also try to avoid that and periodically check my open session count, just to be sure it doesn’t end up crazy huge again either.