A popular Facebook page launched to bring people together who are suffering from grief and loss was the subject of an upsetting seven-week campaign by a hacker that was ignored by the social media giant.
After an administrator's account for the page, Grief the Unspoken, was compromised and abused by the attacker, followers of the page were inundated with what the New York Times says were "disturbing" images.
These images included graphic images of medical procedures, disfigurements, and rescue attempts from burning vehicles, the publication says.
While such content can be distressing to see in any standard scenario, posting graphic content to a page dedicated to supporting those suffering from grief seems particularly cruel and could trigger fresh heartache.
Grief the Unspoken has over 520,000 followers.
The images were posted through the hijacked admin account from May 9, beginning a seven-week saga in which the administrators said Facebook failed to tackle or adequately respond to.
By Monday, the page admins had completely lost control of the page, despite reporting the inappropriate content through Facebook's channels and even going so far as to personally tag Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in their desperation.
It took the social media network close to two months to resolve the problem.
A Facebook spokesperson told the NYT that "as soon as we learned of this issue, we secured the page and restored access to the proper owners," and while past reports had only mentioned "inappropriate conduct," Facebook fixed the issue when it was made aware of the true extent of the problem.
Access has been restored to the page's rightful owners, but the sabotage lost Grief the Unspoken thousands of followers and forced the group to set up a new page earlier this month.
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While Facebook is making an effort to remove inauthentic behavior from its network -- especially when it comes to political content which could sway opinion in scenarios such as upcoming elections -- the company is still facing a massive challenge in controlling the spread of fake or upsetting material.
Facebook recently published a report which summarized a new and ambitious project, the creation of a new board which may have the power to influence the firm's policies as well as content decisions. The committee may be able to decide, for example, whether or not material and pages related to extreme political views are permitted.
In related news, earlier this week, Facebook lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit launched on behalf of users to take Facebook to account over a data breach impacting roughly 30 million account holders. The data breach was caused by a vulnerability in Facebook's code that permitted attackers to compromise and steal access tokens.
The San Francisco federal appeals court has allowed the case to go forward on the basis that a "blind eye" should not be turned against companies able to monetize user data when adequate security measures are not in place.
Previous and related coverage
- The dead will take over Facebook in the next 50 years
- Facebook's bid to quash data breach lawsuit dismissed by judge
- Facebook bans Israel's Archimedes Group over fake political activity, election disruption
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