Hundreds of Facebook groups hijacked

Facebook groups that have lost administrators are being hijacked by a group called Control Your Info that insists it wants only to teach users a lesson about social media.

Facebook groups are under attack. But the attackers say they come in peace and insist they want only to highlight a flaw in the way Facebook handles group administration.

An organization called Control Your Info has taken control of hundreds of Facebook groups. Those groups had administrators that eventually stepped down from their position, creating a power vacuum at the top. According to the organization, when the administrator steps down, anyone can take over a group, view the members' personal information, and change group information to say whatever they want. Control Your Info believes that the way Facebook handles group administration is a major flaw. And it wants to bring that to everyone's attention.

Control Your Info
Control Your Info has hijacked Facebook groups. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

"Hello, we hereby announce that we have officially hijacked your Facebook group," a message written on Monday reads on one hijacked group. "This means we control a certain part of the information about you on Facebook. If we wanted, we could make you appear in a bad way which could damage your image severely."

Janis Roukkos, a representative from Control Your Info wrote that his organization wants to get social-networking users to "think about the safety in your social-media life to the same extent you do in your real life." Although the Control Your Info is in control of that specific group now, Roukkos wrote that Control Your Info will restore the group name (which it changed) and leave the group "by the end of next week." He also promised to not "mess anything up."

That single group isn't alone. A quick search for "Control Your Info" in Facebook yields hundreds of groups that have been hijacked by the organization. All the group names have been changed to "Control Your Info," the logos have been changed to the organization's image, and the messages are all the same. The only difference is which Control Your Info representative is writing about the organization's intentions to each group.

Control Your Info's blog sheds some more light on the organization's problem with Facebook. According to Control Your Info, "Facebook Groups suffer from a major flaw. If (an) administrator of a group leaves, anyone can register as a new admin. So, in order to take control of a Facebook group, all you really have to do is a quick search on Google.

"When you're admin of a group, you can basically do anything you want with it," the blog post continued. "You can change (its) name, and the groups members won't even get a notification of it. You can send (messages) to all members and edit info. This is just one example that really shows the vulnerabilities of social media."

Once again, Control Your Info attempted to justify its actions. The organization said the "project is strictly not for profit and done for a good cause."

Facebook did not immediately respond to request for comment.

In the meantime, what do you think about Control Your Info's practices? Is it really teaching folks about social-media security? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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