Facebook Faces Porn, Violence Spam Virus — What Parents Can Do

Facebook is having a bit of a hard week. Since Monday, users have been leaving in flocks due to a new piece of malware that shows hardcore porn and graphically violent images of animals and people.

No one is sure where the virus came from, or even how it is being passed. What little info is available, it looks like one of those ‘click here’ link types, that takes you to a fake site, fishes your info and begin posting the images on your wall. It then shows up on your Facebook feed for everyone to see, along with more links to further spread the virus.

Among the images being posted online are photoshopped images of celebrities like Justin Beiber engaged in sex acts, hardcore pornography and pictures of people and animals that have been mutilated due to slaughter, accidents and other distasteful events.

In the last 24 hours, Twitter has blown up with complaints from users, many of whom say they deactivated their accounts, and forced their children to do the same as a result.

Indeed, one of the biggest concerns right now is dealing with those underage users who are being exposed to the content. The minimum age requirement for the social networking site is 13, and many other kids have lied about their age (often with parental help) to get a profile.

“Facebook management may have a duty of care to encourage anyone who is underage and has viewed this to discuss it with their family or a school counsellor,” Sally Leivesley of crisis consulting group NewRisk told the BBC in an interview this morning.

Already, fingers are being pointed to an organized attack group from one of the Chans, under the unspecific group heading of Anonymous. Which would be a major raid on their part, were it true. Still, Anonymous has shown the ability to come together for large projects before, such as the now infamous Scientology protests and site hacks.

What Can Be Done?

As a parent, you are probably concerned about your kids coming across some of this content. Especially the more violent images, which younger kids could find especially upsetting. But you might not be eager to force them to shut down their account, and so you might be at a loss about what you can do. But there are a few tips to follow that can help prepare you for the problem, until it is resolved.

  • Talk to your children about what is being seen, so they are aware before it happens. Then ask them to come to you if they find anything inappropriate, so it can be reported.
  • Instruct them not to click on any links, even those shared by friends. Give them examples of suspicious headlines, such as “90% of people who watched this couldn’t make it through the whole video!”
  • Put their account on hold until Facebook announces an end to the problem. You can do this through their ‘Account’ tab. As long as they sign back in within 30 days, they will be able to resume their account without losing any material.
  • Have them use their Facebook via mobile. There will be a most limited view on content this way.
  • Warn your friends list. Link them to official stories so they can see it isn’t just another annoying Copy/Paste, such as this explanation from security group Sophos, or this article from BBC News.

A Quick Warning

There is some evidence to suggest that content people posted on some profiles cannot be seen from that user’s account, but can be seen from other accounts via the friend feed. Which is another reason that contacting your F-List and letting them know the situation is very important. They might see something coming from your profile that you don’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>