Porn storm swarms Facebook

Facebook is under a porn attack -- and the digital delinquents known collectively as 'Anonymous' may be behind it.

Maybe Anonymous wasn’t kidding when it/they announced plans to attack Facebook on November 5.

Multiple sources are now reporting a swarm of porn and other disturbing images filling up news feeds across the social network. Per Sophos researcher (and Naked Security blogger) Graham Cluely, explicit images first started showing up a day or two ago:

The content, which includes explicit hardcore porn images, photoshopped photos of celebrities such as Justin Bieber in sexual situations, pictures of extreme violence and even a photograph of an abused dog, have been distributed via the site - seemingly without the knowledge of users.

As I write this, the cause is officially unknown, though ZDnet blogger Violet Blue attributes it to a virus using some sexually suggestive topic as a lure for Facebookers to click on a malware infested link. It’s not clear if she’s just making an educated guess; nobody from Facebook has commented on this yet.

Cluely notes a similar but smaller attack was reported in September, which he wrote off as a hoax. Now he’s not so sure. Perhaps that was a test run for the big attack now.

The case against Anonymous?

Last July, someone posing as the voice of Anonymous issued a threat to Facebook, saying the group would “kill” the social network on November 5, aka Guy Fawkes Day. I and others wrote that off as the usual hyperbole, if not just an outright prank. The claims made in the YouTube video (now removed) were juvenile and ludicrous – in keeping with many of the Anons’s previous messages. But why target Facebook with so many more deserving targets out there?

Still, the images posted on Facebook over the past few days (Justin Bieber holding a penis instead of a microphone, dead dogs, etc) track closely to the kind of perverse and disgusting stuff you’d find on the 4chan message boards – the primordial ooze from which the Anonymous ‘revolution’ emerged.

The @OpFacebook Twitter account used to rally the troops was last used on November 4. Its final tweet: A call to arms and a link to – yes – a Facebook page. Can you say ‘ironical’? I knew that you could.

Yet November 5 came and went without much of anything happening. But the clickspam theory still applies, because it would probably take that long for a few spammy messages to propagate to the point where they would impact large numbers of people.

Also: I seriously doubt that the Anons’ usual mode of attack – distributed denial of service – would work against Facebook. Those guys have to handle 800 million users every damned day, and I can’t remember the last time it had a major system failure. A few hundred or even thousand script kiddies wouldn’t make a dent.

I’ve asked some FB spokesfolk to comment on the attacks. If and when they respond, I’ll post it here.

Meanwhile, it couldn’t hurt to ask your friends if they’ve seen anything particularly weird or disturbing coming from your news feed -- I mean, weirder or more disturbing than usual -- and to change your Facebook password.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Insider: How the basic tech behind the Internet works
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies