On December 12, 2012 the Federal Bureau of Investigations announced a cybercrime bust it had recently executed and credited Facebook’s security team as its primary collaborator. The operation, which culminated in the arrest of 10 suspects, targeted an international assemblage of online offenders that the FBI labeled the ‘Butterfly Botnet.’ This cyber posse allegedly used a destructive breed of Malware, known as ‘Yahos,’ to corrupt 11 million computers and extract $850 million from unwitting victims, according to the FBI.
A story like this evokes mixed reactions among the social media community. On one hand, it serves as a forceful wakeup call to any Internet user whom believes he/she is immune to fraud. However, it also comes as welcome news for online occupiers in a few regards.
First, this news reassures social media users that a policing force of online agents does exist to protect our identities and personal funds. I’m torn between imagining Facebook’s chief of security as an isolated yet manic super nerd or a cyber-Seal Team 6 wreck loose, though Shia LeBeouf should be cast in the film adaptation either way.
Secondly, it reaffirms social media as the undisputed unifier of the world. As easy as it was for an expansive gang of criminals to collaborate across national and linguistic borders, it was equally viable for federal agents and Facebook to launch an international investigation digitally.
Lastly, this story represents the massive presence of social media in so many facets of life. Along with making connections, sharing experiences, exchanging ideas, enhancing brands and driving sales, social media can now add fighting crime to its rapidly evolving list of capacities. Cybercriminals beware, there’s no escaping the imposing force of Facebook.