Facebook gets flooded with pornographic and gore images

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Publisher: FilePlaza

Date added: 17 Nov 2011

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Today, thousands of feeds were invaded by offensive pictures of all kinds, unveiling yet another security problem in the popular social network. Are these issues the real

Since we’re discussing credibility losses, how about what the biggest social network in the world had to go through today? I’m talking about the mysterious attack on Facebook that bombarded thousands of users with all sorts of offensive images, from pornographic contents to violent and bloody pictures.

And although by Tuesday’s end the company expressed that the attack was under control and that most of the photos were removed, the attack evidenced Facebook’s security issues and how defenseless and exposed the site’s users really are.

“Far from a family-friendly place”

The attack was first reported by Internet security firm Sophos, which expressed that the offensive materials “flooded the newsfeeds of many Facebook users in the last 24 hours.” Hardcore porn images, photoshopped pictures of celebrities engaged in sexual activities and photos of mutilated animals and humans were reportedly appearing in the users’ Walls without their consent or knowledge.

Such kind of contents would have a considerable impact on the users perception of Facebook, according to Graham Cluley, a consultant in Sophos. “Mischief-makers are upsetting many Facebook users and making the social networking site far from a family-friendly place" he expressed.

According to recent developments, the attack would have been caused by a web browser vulnerability, which the worm would have exploited to spread quickly throughout the site. In an statement released today, Facebook expressed that “users were tricked into pasting and executing malicious javascript in their browser URL bar causing them to unknowingly share this offensive content.” In other words, it was the users fault.

What has been seen cannot be unseen

The images can be gone and the attack be a thing of the past but some thoughts remain for us to ponder. The most important is that, in spite of Facebook’s response blaming web browser flaws for the attack, the site’s users are far from feeling some sort of protection. And this isn’t just about some people that saw some explicit content they didn’t want to but about some other far-reaching reasons.

Facebook success is based on the users reliance on the site, a perception that leads them to voluntarily upload all kinds of personal data their profiles, from pictures and videos to private messages to their loved ones. If the visitors can’t feel safe within the social network’s environment, then they can start behaving reluctantly towards the idea of sharing things over the site, since the unspoken threat of a security breach would prevent them to do so.

In fact, some sites are reporting that people have already closed their profiles after today’s attack. And if we take into account that many of Facebook users are underage kids (many of which weren’t supposed to be there in the first place), the damage this attack can make on the social network’s image is unthinkable.

For many users this attack meant the final straw of a long line of issues. Privacy concerns, data being leaked to advertisers and attacks like this are the most serious challenges Facebook has to face to avoid losing territory to other competitors that might appear safer in the users eyes.

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