Facebook confirms images of porn and violence, is investigating

Facebook confirms images of porn and violence, is investigating

Summary: Facebook says it is aware of users reporting a huge flood of unwanted content. This includes links, videos, and images depicting pornography, acts of violence, self-mutilation, and bestiality.

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Update: Facebook: images of porn, violence due to coordinated spam attack.

Last night, reports came in suggesting Facebook users have been experiencing a flood of very graphic images depicting pornography, acts of violence, self-mutilation, and bestiality for the last few days. I contacted Facebook when I first heard, and the company confirmed the NSFW problem with me this morning.

"Facebook is aware of these reports and we are investigating the issue," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. I responded by asking how many users are affected, what Facebook believes has happened, and what is being done, but I haven't heard back yet. If you are affected by this, please see Facebook virus or account hacked? Here's how to fix it.

Update: A little over two hours later, Palo Alto has sent along a slightly more detailed statement. "Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us and we are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms. We have recently experienced an increase in reports and we are investigating and addressing the issue."

The company representative also said more information will be shared when it is known. In the meantime, the following is what we know so far.

Some members of the social network are complaining about violent and/or pornographic pictures showing up in their News Feeds without their knowledge that they have allegedly Liked. Others are being told by their friends that they are 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.

In other words, this is the type of spam we've seen on Facebook before, but it's coming in at a much faster pace, as if it was something planned in advance. It's currently unclear if users are required to click on something to start spreading the spam, or if this is an actual attack leveraging some kind of vulnerability in the service's code.

Users are unsurprisingly outraged and as is typical with Facebook members, many are already threatening to close their accounts. I personally have not seen any such Facebook activity on my own profile, and neither have my friends, but the social networking giant has confirmed that something is up. The service's users complain about a lot of things but this is not a small issue. That being said, it's still not known how many of the site's 800 million active users are affected.

Some are thinking this is an attack, and are already blaming the hacktivist group Anonymous, which was rumored to be planning to take down the social network on November 5. Three months ago, the larger collective made a point to say it did not support such a takedown operation and in the end it did not take place: the service has remained operational all month.

Facebook is still up and running, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been exploited in some way. There is no proof that Anonymous is behind this flood of inappropriate images and links (normally such an attack would result in confirmation from Anonymous, in some shape or form), but it only takes a few members or ex-members to pull something like this off.

This is a developing story: I will continue updating you as Facebook's investigation progresses.

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

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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5 comments
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  • The first place I'd look would be Google

    I wouldn't be surprised if they were behind this somehow, to scare and annoy people into trying something other the Facebook, say like Google+ maybe?

    Given their wifi snooping scam, and other privacy and security concerns, Google looks to be capable of stooping to any level to get what they want.
    William Farrell
    • Better tighten up that tinfoil hat...

      @William Farrell
      Why is it all the nuts come out of the woodwork on ZDNet? Everything is a conspiracy. Depending on the article, it could be Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Linux, FOSS, proprietary software, sinister government forces or some combination of these plotting to take over the world and ruin life for everyone. Get a grip people. Do us all a favor...move out of your parents basement and get a job so that you've got time to think about something besides the next nutball conspiracy theory. Your parents will thank you. We will thank you.
      jasonp9
  • Who were they, and are they anywhere around here

    This isn't what we want to know. What we want to know is whether anybody 'liked' the pictures of the ax-murder victims.
    Robert Hahn
  • Effort to remove facebook porn

    Guys, we all know that pornographic content exsits on facebook. In other words we can say facebook is becoming porn site.

    To support me point see – http://motherwiselife.org/2013/03/11/an-open-letter-to-facebook/

    The concern is what are we doing about this? We all know facebook is not doing anything about this but atleast we should try and do what we can do.

    I did two things as of now:

    1. Make a complain against Facebook on bbb.org (Better Business Bureau)

    - Facebook must respond to complaints made here to keep their good rating so they will answers any question you have.
    – You can make complains and list the URL or link that you think is pornographic image/page/video
    – After facebook receive link your you, they have to delete it or it will go to media…

    We call all make this effort and at least remove the page that we think is porn.

    2. Go to http://www.facebook.com/help/contact/274459462613911

    - Select “Other abuse or harrassment.”
    - Select “No”
    - Enter the links that you think are porn
    – Write what ever you think facebook should do about this in the “Description” tab

    We are anti-porn community might be able to get ride of all the porn content on facebook. All we need to do it make complaint about the link (it should take about 5 mins) and spread the word!

    If you think doing this will give your some satisfaction that you are helping somebody then LET’s DO THIS!
    cloudyelectron1
    • pornographic images

      I reported to facebook one post on my page that had a pornographic act on it. facebook answered me and told me that they investigated and found nothing wrong. so it made me think that maybe my account was hacked, being that the name was legitimate but the images were not.I saw another one today, a whole different posting, but same images. I blocked that as well, but didn't bother to report it because I figured I would get the same answer. It is quite shocking to see genitals on your page and you wonder if your friends can see it as well....
      Luisanna Grippon Waggoner