CYBERSPACE—The problem with porn is not that it exists but how some people abuse its existence. Case in point is the inundation of Facebook over the past few days with images depicting porn, acts of violence, self-mutilation and bestiality. The hacker group Anonymous has been named as a possible source of the unwanted attacks, though it has not been confirmed.
In August, Anonymous threatened the massive social network in reaction to Facebook policies on monetization and privacy. In a YouTube video, the group claimed, “Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world.”
The deadline for Facebook to correct its ways has passed, however, but the more common denial-of-service attack undertaken by Anonymous has not occurred, leaving some to speculate that the numerous small-scale hacks is a new sort of handiwork created to cause a major and creeping disruption of business as usual on Facebook.
Though spamming porn is rare for Anonymous, it is not unknown. Anonymous home base 4Chan made January 4, 2010, YouTube Porn Day in response to the suspension of Lukeywes1234, an account-holder to whom they took a liking. In 2007, the account of a Myspace user was hacked by Anonymous, which loaded it with gay porn and then sent “out a virus to 90 contacts of the victim which resulted in the destruction of over 30 computers due to the infection,” according to Examiner.com.
As reported by AVN, Anonymous has also gone after porn studios in the past, most notably Hustler, which it targeted in October 2010 in response to John Doe copyright infringement lawsuits brought by the company against Torrent users. As stated in the article, Anonymous had previously represented to AVN its deep appreciation for adult entertainment, which left us surmising that if forced to choose, its loyalty is to pirates and not porn. The attack went off as promised, but only kept Hustler's website up and down for a portion of one day.
This reporter has not seen any such Facebook activity related to his profile, and neither did one of his colleagues in the AVN offices, but two others have. One noted that many of his friends have complained about violent or porn images showing up in their feeds without their knowledge that they supposedly “like,” and another said several of her friends are sending out warnings saying that requests are being made on their behalf to click on links to videos about which they have no knowledge. Still others are warning that messages to friends via chat also are bogus.
It’s a mess that began a few days ago and seems to be escalating dramatically. According to a recent Gawker post, ‘Embattled Facebook users have been organizing anti-porn pages, like "I remember when Facebook WASN'T a porn site!’ Worms and scams aren't uncommon on Facebook, but the porn flood appears to be of a different magnitude than most Facebook exploits.”
Thus far, there is no official comment from Anonymous or Facebook, which leads some to believe that it has yet to figure out how to secure the site and stop the flood of porn and other unwanted content.