May 20, 2013

Facebook's ‘Social Reporting’ feature is being abused by organized gangs in Bangladesh

Recently we are getting reports from some Bangladeshi Facebook users about a new problem. Some of their pages or statuses have been disappearing mysteriously.

Actually these individuals are being targeted by a group of people using Facebook's "Social Reporting" feature. It was originally designed to let people report offensive material to Facebook at the same time alerting someone in the community.

One or more organized groups are resorting to ‘false organized reporting' to take down certain posts, pictures, pages or events of mainly pro #Shahbag activists of Bangladesh. During this operation, a user's Facebook status or page or photo is identified and shared between the group members. All the members then start reporting and when there are enough reports submitted, the reported content/pages are  automatically removed by Facebook. @ARIFArifuk shares how they make it happen and are threatening freedom of speech.

 The visual guide to Facebook reporting courtesy Edudemic
Asad Zaman at Amar Blog exposes one such group called Anti-Virus which has five admins. Its about page says:
"The main goal of the Anti-Virus group is to eradicate Awami-Virus from online. The responsibility of the members of this group is to post links about posts criticizing Islam and activists of Islami movement. Then all the members report that status together and take it down."
They are also attacking peoples' profile pic and Facebook IDs. In his post Asad exposes their long list of targets.

In these efforts we are seeing the dark side of social media. A good way to tackle it is to restrict your profile and statuses to Friends only and remove those you don't know personally from your friends list. And you know what these groups can receive the same treatment if the community becomes active.

But really the onus is on to Facebook to explore and put an end to such abuses. Innovations anyone?


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