Monday, April 14, 2008

The Facebook Frame

My sister, Candice van der Leek, would have made a great example of overt and extreme racism in Francois Rank's Sunday Times article: Young racists in cyberspace . Her profile picture had an obese, semi-naked black woman masturbating, and in the political views slot were the words: 'Fu&# Ka##ir$." She'd be the perfect example to cite of a young Afrikaner racist in Cyberspace.

Except that:
1) she isn't an Afrikaner
2) she isn't racist
3) her original Facebook profile was hijacked.

She emailed me the following message after she'd seen what I was talking about, and since I had been 'removed' as a 'friend' from her account.

No Nick! Facebook has disabled my account. Another thing I would not do, is remove my own brother from my account! Im not pissed [at you], Im just shocked !!! If your personal profile pic changes to a pornographic picture, it is highly unlikely that it is a girl, or your own sister that would be that dumb enough to put a masturbating obese black porn star there instead!!! Never mind everything else!

This happened recently, and at first I found the timing of this article and what happened to her profile oddly coincidental. But the actual hijacking of the profile assumes a certain kind of modus operandi: that she did not log off at the internet cafe (which she is using temporarily since she is based in Bloemfontein -unusually - just before flying to the UK at the end of this month), and someone then paid for the pleasure of hijacking her profile. I'm curious who would do this? Someone with a bone to pick with her? I doubt it. Someone who hates blacks? Possibly, but that's going to an awful lot of trouble at an internet cafe (sourcing an image etc.). Or someone who wanted other black people to think that she was an out and out racist? I don't know. I'm not sure I want to know.

When I called her and told her about the changes to her profile she quickly deleted the picture (pretty freaking offensive on its own) and the 'political views' comment, but she subsequently lost the account altogether (friends, messages, the lot).

She says she wants to contact Facebook and inform them that 'it wasn't her', but I doubt they will buy the story.

I also wonder if there is another way to change a Facebook profile; meaning can it be hacked? Well, the scary answer is yes:
How to hack Facebook

Since it can, I'd encourage everyone (with something to lose)to delete their profiles, because this is a great way to sabotage someone's reputation, especially given the current spirit of point, blame, fire.

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