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Thursday 20 July 2017

Facebook users hit by deluge of violence and porn

Edel O'Connell

IRISH Facebook users have been warned not to download applications without checking them out first after users' newsfeeds were flooded with graphic images of sex and violence.

The social networking company last night said it had identified those responsible for the deluge of hardcore porn and violent images displayed on some users' pages and said the company's legal team was working "to ensure appropriate consequences follow".

Users around the world, including a number in Ireland, were confronted with the videos and images -- some of which were doctored to show pornographic pictures of celebrities, including teen star Justin Bieber.

A Facebook spokesperson in Britain said that the website had experienced an increased amount of spam -- unwanted and often obscene internet content -- in the last 24 hours but claimed that the situation was "under control" by last night.

Users were tricked into pasting code for malicious websites into their browsers, which resulted in the sharing of offensive content, she said.

The social networking site said most of the spam content had been dealt with but people needed to remain vigilant to keep their accounts from being hijacked.

"We've built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down the malicious pages and accounts that attempt to exploit it," Facebook said.

Earlier, Facebook said it had "drastically limited the damage caused" by the spam attack.

"Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us," the company said.

Internet experts last night warned that Facebook ran the risk of losing some of its more than 800 million active users if the situation was not brought under control.

"Facebook needs to get this under control, because the content is so offensive," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at British internet security company Sophos. "Some people may quit Facebook."

Warned

Irish internet safety expert Simon Grehan of the National Centre for Technology in Education in Dublin last night warned users to never cut and paste an unknown code into an address bar, to always use an up-to-date browser and to report any suspicious content.

"We are asking people to be vigilant when it comes to applications," he said.

"The incident underlines the importance of considering your actions and the possible unintended consequences when using sites like Facebook. Users should never enter unknown software code into the address bar and routinely update the web browser they use."

Irish Independent

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