Hoax alert! No, hackers aren’t posting ‘invisible sexual content’ on your Facebook wall

Are hackers posting sexual videos and pictures on the walls of Facebook users?

No, but that’s the claim in a meme published on Facebook in the US in July 2015 and shared 20,000 times so far. The claim also appeared on Nigeria’s Nairaland Forum website in June 2013.

The post reads: “Hackers are posting sexual videos and pictures on your walls! You don’t see them, but your friends do then it seems as if you posted it. If you see any such garbage posted under my name, please let me know because ‘ I DID NOT POST IT! Share this to protect yourself .”

It’s been flagged as false by Facebook users in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Post debunked in 2011

This isn’t the first time the message has made the rounds online.

Fact-checking site Snopes rated the claim false back in August 2011. Snopes staff said they were yet to encounter any verified account of hackers having inserted invisible sexual videos and pictures into the Facebook accounts of users.

The post was also rated false by another fact-checking site, Politifact, in April 2019. In their view, the alert is too vague to be a credible security warning,

How to control what is posted on your Facebook profile

The reference to the “Facebook wall” reveals that the false warning is at least eight years old. In September 2011 Facebook discontinued the wall, and replaced it with the timeline.

Facebook said the meme is indeed an old hoax.

“I can confirm that this is actually a hoax that originated back in 2011,” Kezia Anim-Addo, Facebook communications manager, told Africa Check.

“People cannot post on Facebook profiles or Pages without the owners seeing these.”

She provided links to Facebook help pages that “further explain how people can control what is posted to their profiles and pages”.

A Google search reveals the meme was flagged by cybersecurity website Sophos back in September 2011.

In their report, Sophos described the alert as “nonsense”. They said they had not seen any evidence that hackers were able to post content which would be invisible to the Facebook user. – Motunrayo Joel (23/05/2019)

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Fighting coronavirus misinformation

Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the alliance here.

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