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How lethal could a bug be?

We must always be thinking about how we treat our bugs, how thoroughly we should look for defects in software testing and when this testing should start/ at which phase of the SDLC.

~ Written By Anthoula Poniraki

Recently, I read in the news that Facebook declared many users dead, including the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a massive memorial 'remembering' profile bug.

When logged onto their accounts, Facebook users would come across a “memorialised account” informing people who visited their profile that they are dead - but they were alive, of course!

What a bug!

Posted on Mark Zuckerberg’s profile, there was a statement saying: "We hope people who love Mark will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate his life."

Facebook’s explanation

Later the same day, Facebook representatives explained what had happened by issuing the following statement: "For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialized profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts. This was a terrible error that we have now fixed. We are very sorry that this happened and we worked as quickly as possible to fix it."

Facebook characterised the bug as “terrible” but they didn’t explain why it happened. Could it have been a hack attack?

Are all bugs important?

…this is a good question, there are bugs which are more important than others. There are bugs that if you notice them at the development phase means that they will cost nothing (or just a little) to be fixed, however if found after deployment then they may cost a lot of money. The one thing that is certain though is that every working software should have no defects when being deployed.

What did this bug cost for Facebook? Maybe just a bit of embarrassment this time but was it a critical bug to find quickly? Well, many people had to call their relatives and confirm they were not dead, so of course! Moreover, if my grandma had looked at my Facebook profile and it said I had passed away, that could cause enough stress to make her really ill. Luckily, my grandma doesn’t have a Facebook account (and my profile wasn’t affected by the bug)! Therefore something like this should be tested thoroughly before going live.

We must always be thinking about how we treat our bugs, how thoroughly we should look for defects in software testing and when this testing should start/ at which phase of the SDLC.

I think the right answer here is that testing should start as soon as possible and we are all responsible for that.

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