Congresswoman to probe Facebook over coordinated spam attack

Summary:Representative Mary Bono Mack has asked Facebook to detail the coordinated spam attack that resulted in pornography, acts of violence, self-mutilation, and bestiality flooding the service.

Representative Mary Bono Mack, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, has asked Facebook for a briefing next week to learn more about the flood of links, videos, and images depicting pornography, acts of violence, self-mutilation, and bestiality Facebook users have been experiencing over the last few days.

"The Chairman is very concerned about what took place and wants to make certain – to the extent possible – that it doesn't happen again," a spokesperson for the congresswoman told The Hill. Among other the questions, Bono Mack wants to know how many of Facebook's 800 million active users were impacted, how the attack occurred, whether the vulnerability exploited could be used to gather users' personal information, and what Facebook is doing to prevent future intrusions. Bono Mack is currently working on legislation that would set national standards for what actions companies must take to prevent and respond to data breaches involving consumer data.

For its part, Facebook has agreed to participate in the briefing. "We look forward to briefing Rep. Bono Mack's staff on this matter," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Two days ago, Facebook confirmed the NSFW problem and then revealed it was hit by a coordinated spam attack leveraging a browser vulnerability. Yesterday, the social networking giant acknowledged it knows who orchestrated the whole thing and said it has eliminated most of the spam on its service.

During the attack, some members of the social network saw violent and/or pornographic pictures show up in their News Feeds without their knowledge that they have allegedly Liked. Others were told by their friends that they were sending requests to click on links to videos, sending out bogus chat messages, or writing mass messages and tagged photos leading people to believe they are in the link. If you were affected by this, please see Facebook virus or account hacked? Here's how to fix it. According to the company, this spam attack all started with users being tricked into pasting and executing malicious JavaScript in their browser's URL bar. This resulted in them unknowingly sharing the offensive content.

See also:

Topics: Security, Social Enterprise

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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