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Facebook Moderators’ Identities Exposed to Terrorists

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Security Threats

A day after Facebook talked up its efforts to wipe out accounts linked to terrorist groups, The Guardian reveals that the social network inadvertently exposed the identities of content moderators tasked with banning those terrorist groups.

This "security lapse," as Facebook described it, affected more than 1,000 workers who use Facebook's content moderation software to remove terrorist propaganda and other content that's not allowed.

"A bug in the software, discovered late last year, resulted in the personal profiles of content moderators automatically appearing as notifications in the activity log of the Facebook groups, whose administrators were removed from the platform for breaching the terms of service," The Guardian reports. "The personal details of Facebook moderators were then viewable to the remaining admins of the group."

Among the troubling details in the story is that Facebook required its content moderators to use their personal Facebook accounts to log into the company's moderation system. One affected individual, who was paid just $15 per hour to "develop specialist knowledge of global terror networks and scour through often highly-disturbing material," tells The Guardian he went into hiding following the disturbing ordeal, fearing retaliation.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the security breach to PCMag and said the company has made "a series of technical and process improvements" to prevent a similar issue from recurring.

"We care deeply about keeping everyone who works for Facebook safe," a spokesman said. "As soon as we learned about the issue, we fixed it and began a thorough investigation to learn as much as possible about what happened."


Six of the affected content moderators were deemed "high priority" victims after the investigation revealed that their personal profiles were "likely viewed" by terrorists, including people with ties to Isis, Hezbollah, and the Kurdistan Workers Party, The Guardian reports. The affected individual who spoke to The Guardian is among the high-risk group. He and others first caught wind of the problem after receiving friend requests from people affiliated with terrorist groups.

He and other Facebook "community operations analysts" was contracted to work at Facebook's Ireland office by the global outsourcing company Cpl Recruitment. He has filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Cpl seeking compensation for the mental anguish he's faced as a result of the breach.

Facebook said it hasn't turned up evidence of any threat to the people impacted by the breach or their families. The company has "contacted each of them individually to offer support, answer their questions, and take meaningful steps to ensure their safety," the spokesperson said. Cpl did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

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