Facebook has a whole host of problems on its hands, but this is one that is likely to get much larger -- and possibly explosively so.
My daughter is an aspiring (and quite good) photographer and graphic artist. She has also earned herself a number of Adobe certifications in school (in short, she could go to work right now with documented proof that she understands the entire Creative Suite -- not bad for a teen, eh?)
So what's the deal and how does this tie to the headline of the article?
Quite simple: I recently went to update her machine and got an ugly surprise -- a couple of Adobe applications refused to start with rather-cryptic error messages. Upon investigation I found the problem -- a download that is pushed as "helping" to grab video files, including those on Facebook, had damaged the primary x64 C libraries on the machine!
Now malware is nothing new. But this one is: It has 599,000 "likes" on Facebook on its page.
Editor's Note: In its last evaluation of iLivid, the Download.com team decided that the software did not fully adhere to the Download.com Software Policies. We cannot recommend this software and do not provide a download link to it. Product data is presented for informational purposes only.
Uh, yeah. I'd say so.
Look, mistakes are nothing new. And I have not investigated whether some of the other allegations that have been raised around the net, including that this software likes to redirect searches and do other "fun" things once loaded, are true.
But there are multiple, and pretty-well-documented, reports that the installation of this thing destroys system file integrity, and it does so in a way that the usual system file scanner ("sfc") that Microsoft supplies doesn't detect it. It also doesn't trip virus scanners because, well, it's not a virus.
Oh, and de-installing this application doesn't put the system back the way it was either.
There is not much that a software designer can do when you ask someone's permission to do a thing (e.g. "can I install X") and the user says "Yes!" But it appears that the linkage between the breakage that I ran into with Adobe's professional software and this particular application which is being heavily marketed and "liked" on Facebook, is pretty solid.
There are workarounds to this problem but here's the really bad news -- they don't really fix everything. Like, for instance, the camera codecs that Microsoft has available (and which also magically stopped working on this machine.)
I'm in the middle of un-screwing the machine in question right now, and I'm not enjoying it one little bit. I want to know where to send the invoice for a couple of dozen man-hours, which is what I expect will be expended before the damage is completely eradicated.
This kind of crap, in short, is unacceptable in today's world: You simply do not screw with system files.
These sorts of things cannot happen by accident either. Windows 7 explicitly protects system files and their configuration and you have to go to quite a bit of trouble, none of which happens by accident either, to override that protection. But when you ask someone for permission to do a given thing and they consent, that protection is willfully circumvented. When that comes from an allegedly-trusted application and full disclosure of what you intended to do when you asked for that permission, who's responsible for the harm that later ensues?
Oh, the company's home page? It has a "Contact Us" link that doesn't lead to any means of contact.
If you have this piece of crap on your machine and suddenly find that some 64 bit applications refuse to start with cryptic error messages, now you know why. The bad news is that you may figure this out six months or more after you loaded this thing since the damage is rather subtle and as a consequence you may either find that you don't have a restore point that covers you any more or that the consequences of rolling back to it may be too severe to put up with (like a whole bunch of applications and work disappearing since you're rolling back to a MUCH earlier date.)
Why does this impact Facebook?
How do you think most people found out about this thing in the first place?
Now what happens to Facebook's reputation and user count when those people wind up having to do a system reload as a consequence of a piece of software that was touted and promoted on their site?
Oh, and here's the icing on the cake -- the thread up above referencing this on Adobe's forums documented where the damage came from dates to November 24th, my daughter's installation of this crap post-dated that materially and, most-importantly, the page and software are still on Facebook with their 599,000 "likes."
Needless to say, my opinion of this thing can be summed up thus:
Disclosure: No position in Farcebook.
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