By Wednesday afternoon, media reports that some two lakh Facebook users' accounts in Bangalore had been compromised, and weblinks to morphed pornographic pictures of individuals were being posted to news feeds, went viral on the web.

Triggered by reports that claimed that “global reports” had identified Bangalore as a key target in India, the chatter on Facebook and Twitter — where else — was about what, why and how these attacks had been carried out. The prognosis, needless to say, was a whole lot of hot air.

Not in Bangalore

Though the source of the reports on India remained unknown, globally media and several tech blogs reported that users had to deal with a deluge of porn and violent images on their news feeds. When contacted, Facebook's India office denied the reports about mass hacking of accounts in Bangalore and elsewhere.

In a written statement shared with the media, Facebook termed the reports “inaccurate”. “This is not true, and no accounts have been compromised. Users' photos are not being transferred to an unwanted site and no accounts have been compromised. Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us. We are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms, and take action on those who are responsible for these types of content.”

When contacted, the cyber cell of the Bangalore police also rubbished reports of any mass hacking. B.A. Mahesh, Superintendent of Police, (Cyber Crime-Criminal Investigation Department) toldThe Hinduhis department has not received any complaints regarding this.

Speculating more on this, another key police official said all the reports were based on rumours and suspected that Facebook's competitors were trying to tarnish the social media site's image.

Global spam

However, tech blogs from around the world continued to report spam attacks. Initial reports even attributed this to the hacktivist group Anonymous, which has previously threatened to attack Facebook citing its ideological opposition to its treatment of privacy and related issues.

In Germany, according to reports, photos of celebrities such as Justin Beiber morphed into pornographic material did the rounds from Monday.

Facebook reportedly admitted there had been a spam attack that took advantage of vulnerabilities in web browsers. Though the exact type of vulnerability is not clear yet, it appears that users were tricked into pasting and executing malicious JavaScript in the URL bars of their browsers, resulting in their unknowingly sharing the content.