Facebook warns that 50,000 users may have been victims of spyware

UPDATE: Arrests made following death of 80-year-old British woman in Elche. Image: Policia Nacional

Facebook has warned that 50,000 users may have been victims of spyware, all of whom have been made aware of the possible incident.

The social network Facebook has warned around 50,000 users in more than a hundred countries around the world that they may have been victims of “cyber mercenaries”, who work for both companies and government agencies.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, gave a public statement this Thursday, December 16, informing that it had alerted all those who may have been victims. They were sent a message saying: “We believe that a sophisticated attacker may be targeting your Facebook account. Be cautious when accepting friend requests and interacting with people you don’t know.”

According to Meta, the companies or individuals it describes as “cyber mercenaries” targeted victims indiscriminately. Victims included journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes and human rights activists.

Meta has deactivated seven surveillance companies that spied on people in more than a hundred countries, it has deleted 1,500 accounts and it has shared its findings with security researchers, other platforms and the authorities.

The providers of these services are in China, Israel, India and North Macedonia, according to Meta. The surveillance process is divided into three stages: recognition, contact and exploitation.

Even though the victims have been alerted and Meta is working on strengthening its security measures, it has warned that “the entities behind these surveillance operations are persistent”. It is not the first time that Facebook has been criticised for such security problems.


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Written by

Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]