Glitch Sees Facebook Feeds Flooded With Celebrity Spam

Thousands of users around the world experienced Facebook feeds showing strange posts from celebrities this morning.

On the outage tracking website Downdetector.com, users began posting reports of problems on the platform between 7am and 9am BST (British summer time).

The bizarre bug apparently flooded user news feeds with posts to celebrity accounts and groups, which Meta has blamed on a ‘configuration issue’.

Celebrity spam

As a result, users reportedly began posting memes to popular Facebook fan pages, mocking the spam-like fault from Facebook.

Other users took advantage of the situation by spamming PayPal donation links, GoFundMe pages, or promoting cryptocurrency projects.

Meta spokesperson Alexandru Voica offered a response on Twitter, and blamed an unspecified “configuration change” for the problem, and said it had since been resolved.

Human error?

A security expert said this case demonstrated yet again the risks of human error, impacting big name tech platforms.

“Many Facebook users woke up to a glitch on their news feeds which showed various comments that other users had posted on celebrity pages,” noted Chris Vaughan, area VP technical account management at Tanium.

“The company has now confirmed this was due to a ‘configuration change’ which has now been fixed,” said Vaughan.

“This is the latest example of a serious IT issue that was caused by human error after Facebook was impacted by a separate incident in October last year that was also caused by a staff slip-up,” Vaughan added.

Back in October, the platform blamed a “faulty configuration change” for a six-hour outage

That outage was so severe, it prevented the platform’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services including, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

The outage was the largest ever tracked by Downdetector.

“The weakest link in IT and cybersecurity is always likely to be the human element, but there are measures that can be taken to minimise the impact of these potentially damaging mistakes,” added Tanium’s Vaughan. “The main one is for organisations to boost their levels of cyber hygiene, which refers to a set of practices that organisations and individuals perform regularly to maintain the health and security of users, devices, networks and data.”

“Important aspects of cyber hygiene that can avoid glitches and downtime include patching and having visibility of all devices connected to the organisation’s network so that any vulnerable ones can be fixed or removed,” said Vaughan. “Measures like these offer no guarantee of avoiding any costly incidents, but they certainly reduce the chances of them happening and the impact they have.”

“This Facebook issue is surfacing shortly after former Twitter executive Peiter Zatko cited several security problems with the platform and employee devices,” said Vaughan. “Therefore, I expect the high level of attention to continue being placed on the practices of social media companies in regards to IT management and security.”

“By focusing on boosting cyber hygiene and demonstrating these efforts to the public and government, trust can be built,” Vaughan concluded. “This is important for social media companies because it directly influences a key goal that many of them share – growing the number of users.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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