The Facebook error that has plagued McGill students for over a year has been fixed. The error prevented McGill students from accessing the McGill Facebook community, which is supposed to be open to anyone with an “@mail.mcgill.ca” email. Access to the community is necessary to view and create posts in faculty groups, McGill Free and For Sale, Textbook Exchange, and various club groups. As a result, students unable to access the online community found it difficult to communicate with extracurriculars and stay up-to-date on events.
While some clubs have open groups, many choose to keep group membership limited to the McGill community as this protects from spam posting and irrelevant content. For groups involving personal information such as McGill Housing, a closed group that connects McGill students looking for roommates and apartments, it is also important that only McGill students have the ability to post in the group. As a result, some groups were reluctant to make their groups open to the public, which ultimately barred many McGill students from popular forums.
The solution came from exchange student Paul Estephan. When he heard about the glitch, he contacted a friend who worked at Facebook to see if they could fix the error.
“Essentially[,] the domain ‘mail.mcgill.ca’ wasn’t listed as a valid domain for the group,” Estephan wrote to The McGill Tribune. “[My Facebook contact] added ‘mail.mcgill.ca’ as a domain, so everyone who had ‘mail.mcgill.ca’ on their email linked to Facebook could join [the McGill community].”
It is unclear whether the error is now entirely resolved, or how it originated. It has affected students across Canada, including at Bishop’s University, Concordia University, McMaster University, University of British Columbia, and University of Toronto. At McGill, students had tried contacting Facebook as well as McGill’s IT services to fix the issue. In an email to the Tribune, McGill IT wrote that they were unable to offer any assistance to the affected students as Facebook’s McGill community is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by McGill. Danah Al Megbel, one of the affected students, was dissatisfied with McGill’s lack of proactivity on the issue.
“It was very frustrating because I knew that the [McGill Facebook community] had so many different opportunities that I was technically allowed to use, but couldn’t,” Al Megbel said. “McGill didn’t help in making the situation better or solving the problem.”
First years and other incoming McGill students were among those primarily affected, prompting Keating Kenna Reid, U1 Arts, to create a Facebook group in protest. The group, titled “McGill’s Forgotten Freshmen”, currently has 896 members. Although the error is now solved for the majority of students, including Reid, a few are still having trouble accessing the community.
“I feel like it’d only be right to pass the torch to the still-forgotten freshmen,” Reid said. “I hope they keep being a pain to whomever they need to [in order] to get the issue fixed.”
Although the group started out as a place for affected students to share ways they had tried to fix the error and their frustrations about the problem, it evolved far beyond its original mandate—more recent posts show clubs promoting events, students sharing lease opportunities, and student society candidates campaigning. Although Reid is glad to finally be part of McGill’s Facebook community, he has mixed feelings about the error’s resolution.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Reid said. “I think the real McGill community was the friends we made along the way.”