A minister of Singapore (Vivian Balakrishnan) was found to be in breach of electioneering rules, when several posts were made on his Facebook account on "cooling-off day" (September 10th, 2015, the day before the elections).

He blamed this on a Facebook bug. Story.

Is this plausible? Have there been other known instances of this bug occurring? Or was this Singaporean politician victim to an exceedingly-rare bug? I am a casual Facebook user and not a security expert, but I have never heard of Facebook itself making the mistake of auto-posting to someone's page. (Although I've heard of rogue apps/games doing so.)

Update: According to Channel News Asia:

Facebook has confirmed that a bug in their system led to "recurrent auto-posting" on Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's Facebook page., causing a post to go up on Cooling-Off Day, when candidates are not allowed to campaign offline, or online.

In an email to the media on Friday (Sep 11) a spokesperson for Facebook said, "A bug in our technical system led to recurrent auto-posting on Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's Facebook Page. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused."

Note though that the above news outlet is wholly owned by the Singapore government. I can find no official statement from Facebook.

  • 2
    It is definitely possible, that legitimate or rogue applications could have permission to post to his account. It is probably not a 'bug', but a rogue app. – TheJulyPlot Sep 11 '15 at 7:55

Without an official statement from Facebook how these posts were made, we can only speculate.

Many organizations which use Facebook professionally for social media campaigns, like election campaign offices of politicians, do not use Facebook directly but use software tools to post content. Such tools can be configured to schedule a time and date when a prewritten message is posted.

It is quite likely that these posts were made through such a tool. A bug in such a software which gets the posting date wrong might be conceivable, but in my opinion human error (someone in his social media team doesn't know how to use the tool or wasn't aware of the cooling-off day rule) is far more likely. But in both cases the problem is on the politicians side.

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