The Dirty Details of Facebook's Porn Attack Skip to main content

The Dirty Details of Facebook's Porn Attack

On Thursday afternoon, Facebook confirmed that a "coordinated spam attack" has been sending a torrent of hardcore porn and gore into Facebook users' news feeds. It's not pretty. Scattered reports say that images of everything from besitaliality to graphic violence and dead babies to Justin Bieber have been taking over entire feeds for the past two days. Facebook says it's managed to contain the damage. Next, the company plans on crushing the hackers who caused it in court.
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"During this spam attack users were tricked into pasting and executing malicious javascript in their browser URL bar causing them to unknowingly share this offensive content," Facebook's Andrew Noyes explained in a statement. "Our efforts have drastically limited the damage caused by this attack, and we are now in the process of investigating to identify those responsible."
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So far bloggers have a pretty good idea. Adrian Chen at Gawker was one of the first to cover the attack and suggested that the full-on assault of nasty images "is definitely one of Anonymous' trademark moves," noting that the hacktivist announced an attack on Facebook with something called the "Guy Fawkes virus." ZDNet's privacy blogger Violet reiterated that the "style of images is very much along the lines of 4Chan's /b, which is where the genesis of Anonymous occurred," and added that the content suggested "a much more direct attack on Facebook — the company — rather than an attack on its users." (If you think you've been hit, ZDNet put together a handy how-to-fix-it blog post, too.) Graham Cluley at the Sophos Naked Security blog stopped short of guessing who the perpetrators might be but noted that Facebook users were threatening to flee the site in scores, after seeing the images. "Facebook needs to get a handle on this problem quickly, and prevent it from happening on such a scale again."
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Which brings us to Facebook's so far angry-sounding response. Thought the social network stayed quiet about the attack until Tuesday afternoon, they didn't reserve any hesitation in threatening to hunt down and throw the book at the spammers responsible for the gross flood of filth. "In addition to the engineering teams that build tools to block spam," Noyes told The Atlantic Wire, "we also have a dedicated enforcement team that has already identified those responsible and is working with out legal team to ensure appropriate consequences follow."
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Just last year, Facebook helped hunt down self-annointed "Spam King" Sanford Wallace in relation to three separate attacks on the social network. Having compromised 500,000 accounts and sent an estimated 27 million spam messages, Wallace earned himself various charges of fraud and intentional damage to a protected a computer. A judge eventually ordered Wallace to pay Facebook a total $711 million in damages. Wallace, who is considered the inventor of spam, had already racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from other sites and is unlikely to pay the fine, though he faces 16 years in prison.  Similar cases have yielded similarly jaw-dropping figures, including a $360.5 million judgment against spammer Philip Porembski earlier this year and an $873 million judgment in 2008 against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital. For spamming.

Sources: The Dirty Details of Facebook's Porn Attack

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