Bloomberg News

Facebook Risks Losing Users as Porn, Violence Jam Newsfeeds

November 17, 2011

(Updates with comments from Facebook in fourth paragraph.)

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. risks losing users who are offended by what researchers said is an inundation of violent images and hardcore pornography into some newsfeeds. The social network said it’s investigating the matter.

“We are hearing this problem is spreading,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos Ltd. “Facebook needs to get this under control, because the content is so offensive. Some people may quit Facebook.”

Porn, pictures of extreme violence and faked photos of celebrities such as Justin Bieber in sexual situations have overrun the profiles of some Facebook users in the last 24 hours, Abingdon, U.K.-based Sophos said. Some of Facebook’s more than 800 million active users may pull the plug on profiles if Facebook doesn’t quickly resolve the spam, Sophos said.

Facebook said it has “drastically limited the damage caused” by a spam attack that took advantage of a browser vulnerability.

“Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us,” Palo Alto, California-based Facebook said in a statement.

Users were tricked into pasting malware into their browsers, which in turn resulted in the sharing of offensive content, Facebook said.

“We’ve built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down the malicious Pages and accounts that attempt to exploit it,” Facebook said.

Like a ‘Porn Site’

Facebook users lamented the images on microblogging service Twitter Inc.

“Has anyone been on Facebook lately?” tweeted Jay Ciroc, who identifies himself as a recording artist living in New Jersey. “My newsfeed looks like a porn site.”

Some Twitter users said they’ll quit Facebook as a result.

--Editors: Marcus Chan, Tom Giles

To contact the reporters on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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