The issue, which first started appearing on Facebook pages a couple days ago according to ZDNet, has generated a growing wave of revulsion online as some users took to Twitter to complain of graphic and lurid imagery that goes far beyond ordinary porn.
“I noticed Facebook porn in my friend feed. New feature? No. A Facebook ‘virus’ shows hardcore porn and violent,” tweeted Christopher Justice, a CEO of an Austin-based online design firm. Justice later told Digits that he has asked employees at his firm, who use Facebook “like a telephone,” to proceed with caution.
“We’ve put in place backend measures to reduce the rate of these attacks and will continue to iterate on our defenses to find new ways to protect people,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Writing on the blog for Internet security firm Sophos earlier today, senior technology consultant Graham Curley said while the while the exact nature of the problem was not known, “What’s clear, however, is that mischief-makers are upsetting many Facebook users and making the social networking site far from a family-friendly place,” Curley wrote.
Facebook has a no-nudity policy and requires that members be at least 13 years old. Users are encouraged to report questionable content via links on Facebook pages. The social network also removes pornography on its own initiative.
Digits contacted Curley for more guidance on what users can do. Because details remain sketchy, he said, it’s hard to give advice. “However, we would continue to recommend that users tighten their privacy settings, lock down as much as possible their friends’ ability to tag them in posts and picture, and run up-to-date anti-virus software on their computers.”
He suggested that firms wishing to protect their staff from offensive content might consider blocking Facebook access until the problem is solved.
The problem comes as Facebook gears up to unveil a massive profile page redesign to its 800 million users. The redesign, called Timeline, will take each and every action a user has made on Facebook, and organize them chronologically. As one can imagine, no one is going to want their online diary soiled by a speck of violent imagery.
Whoever or whatever is to blame, the damage needs to be contained and fast, wrote Curley. “It’s precisely this kind of problem which is likely to drive people away from the site.”