The social network claims user security is its “paramount” concern.
Image: Bhupinder Nayyar/Flickr
Perhaps Facebook is listening to Edward Snowden's criticism.
The social network will now alert users when it suspects their accounts are being targeted by an "attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state."
While Facebook didn't name any names, it's not hard to guess who these might be, with governments in countries like China, Iran, and Syria notorious for monitoring the social networking habits of its citizens.There's also the chance that Facebook could be referring to government-backed spy agencies like the NSA and GCHQ, its UK counterpart, but it's important to remember these agencies can access Facebook data with legal requests.
"While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored," explained Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos in a blog post. "We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts."
Stamos added that Facebook users who see this message should "rebuild or replace [their computers] if possible."
Facebook's moves follow public criticism from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who last week called on the social network to "decide who they work for–the government, or the people who use their services."
Facebook has also been one of the more vocal Silicon Valley companies to have spoken against state-sponsored surveillance in the US, with Mark Zuckerberg going so far as to call President Obama in March 2014 to convey his "frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future."