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updated 11/15/2011 2:45:40 PM ET 2011-11-15T19:45:40

Graphic images of violence and hard-core sex are spreading across Facebook, causing outrage among the site's hundreds of millions of members.

Showing up in users' news feeds, the highly offensive content includes images of masturbating women and Photoshopped pictures of celebrities such as Justin Bieber engaged in sexual acts with other men, as well as explicit images of violence and self-mutilation and shots of abused animals.

"Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and malicious content is a top priority for us and we are always working to improve our systems to isolate and remove material that violates our terms," a Facebook spokesman told SecurityNewsDaily. "We have recently experienced an increase in reports and we are investigating and addressing the issue."

Meanwhile, the wave of horrifying images is not sitting well with Facebook users, some of whom say they are through with the social network.

Users speak out

"I sign into Facebook and the 1st thing I see is a dead dog. My relationship with Facebook is now over," a woman posted on Twitter, the security firm Sophos reported.

Another post read, "Time to delete Facebook."

SecurityNewsDaily has not seen any of the nasty pornographic pictures, but commenters on SecurityNewsDaily's own Facebook page say they have been inundated with them.

"Ran my cursor across my home page today to go to my gift requests and a photo popped up in the middle of Justin Bieber placing his mouth on [another man's private parts]. Not something I wanted to see first thing in the morning, afternoon or night!" Lynn Pierscinski-Fleck said.

'Jesus porn'

Users are also reporting pictures of Jesus engaged in sexual acts, and they've taken to Twitter to air their disgust.

"I just saw Jesus porn on Facebook. NOT OKAY" Lauren Lubejko wrote.

"I had to deactivate my FB after all that Jesus porn ... I just can't risk my position in heaven looking like a posted that mess," Kiera J wrote.

Links and stupidity keep the pictures spreading

Though it's not clear how the images are spreading, there are reports that clickjacking scams — in which users are prompted to click on a fake news story or video — are keeping the pictures going.

A discussion thread on Reddit pointed to spammy links as the cause for the "Facebook porn outbreak." Clickjacking scams are always present on Facebook, usually in the form of "must-see" or "exclusive" video of celebrities like Bieber, Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian.

Of course, clicking on such links is never smart, as they rarely deliver what they promise and nearly always land you in some kind of trouble, whether it’s sending spam to all your contacts or taking you to a malicious survey page that tries to harvest your personal information.

As long as there are celebrities, there will be people interested in learning more about them, and these clickjacking scams will continue to thrive.

If your Facebook page has become inundated with these graphic images, there are some safety measures you can employ. Delete any rogue applications that may have shown up on your page or posted to your wall, and strengthen your privacy settings to restrict the scope of what people can see on your page.

Anonymous suspected, but no evidence

Several websites suspected that the hacktivist group Anonymous was behind the image onslaught. But there was no mention of Facebook on the various Anonymous-affiliated Twitter feeds, which were preoccupied today (Nov. 15) with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The indiscriminate and extremely offensive nature of the images suggests a prank by "b-tards," the frequenters of 4chan.org's anything-goes "/b/" image board, where Anonymous got its start. But 4chan has been down for several days as the result of a DDoS attack.

"Facebook is not the poster child for information security. It's never been a secure platform," Joseph Steinberg, chief executive of IT firm Green Armor Solutions, told SecurityNewsDaily. "They've grown so large so rapidly without having to worry about security."

If you have a Facebook account, Steinberg said, you should "assume there may be security issues."

Users should not be surprised if their privacy is compromised or if offensive spam images flood their pages, he said.

"People are shocked, but their approach is wrong," he added. "Facebook is something you use for free. You're not Facebook's customer, you're their product. You don't have very many rights.

"You wouldn't think of the Web as a secure place, so why would you think Facebook is?"

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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