No evidence Facebook hackers sending ‘offensive comments’ to your friends which you can’t see

17 June 2022
What was claimed

There’s a new Facebook hack that sends very offensive comments to an account holder’s contacts while appearing to come from them. The account holder won’t see it, but their contacts do.

Our verdict

This warning has been circulating on Facebook for years. Experts say there’s no evidence that this specific kind of hack is happening.

A post warning about “hackers” has been circulating on Facebook. It says they are sending “offensive comments” to the friends of people whose accounts have been hacked which the account owner can’t see.

The post reads: “Apparently, someone has found another way to hurt and insult people for no reason. Keep your eyes open. There’s a new Facebook hack that sends very offensive comments to your contacts and it seems you wrote it. You won’t see it, but your contacts do.”

This claim seems to be the latest iteration of a warning about this kind of “hack” which has been circulating for several years and regularly reemerges on Facebook.

The fact-checking website Snopes has identified similar versions of this post dating back to at least 2011.

What real hacks are out there?

Facebook accounts can be accessed by malicious actors, for example when an account holder clicks on a link which tricks them into sharing personal information, or which contains software that allows a hacker to access information stored on their computer, like login credentials. This is known as a “phishing scam”.

These types of scams have reportedly become increasingly common over recent years, with hackers tricking people into clicking on links sent by email, via social media or on dodgy websites. Other tricks, such as fake Facebook “like” buttons and mobile apps, have also been used to access accounts.

There have been reports of phishing scams using hacked Facebook accounts to send messages with unsafe links en masse to the friends of the hacked account owner. Rather than sending “offensive comments”, the messages more commonly use phrases intended to worry the recipient like “Is this you?” or “It’s you in this video”, encouraging them to click on a link and fall victim to the scam.

However, while it is possible for hackers who gain access to a Facebook account to send messages to other accounts, this is unlikely to happen without the rightful account owner being able to see these messages, as it would require a hacker to access and edit Facebook’s code.

Speaking about similar warnings to PolitiFact in 2019, Clifford Neuman, cybersecurity expert and director of University of Southern California’s Center for Computer Systems Security said that if a hacker were to be able to post code to a user’s Facebook wall “it is potentially possible for someone to post something on your wall in a way that could keep you from seeing it.”

He added, however, that he had not seen any credible evidence that this kind of hack was happening on Facebook.

Facebook has previously confirmed to AFP Fact-Check that claims about this kind of hack are “simply false.” Full Fact has contacted Facebook to ask whether this is still the case.

Image courtesy of Joshua Hoehne

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