Users of the Armenian version of Facebook social networking site logged in to their accounts only to face a facebook-load of unpleasant surprises today.
Apparently, all it takes to ‘hack’ the world’s largest social network is 1) go to Facebook Translations application, 2) modify the text there to your liking (e.g. to display advertisement for your website) and 3) vote it up so it will show to hundreds and thousands of users of this or that localized version of Facebook.
At least that’s the tactics used by someone (or several someones), calling themselves ”AzPatriot.” As you can see from the screenshot of my Facebook profile today, the phrases “Edit My Profile”, “Top News” and “Most Recent” had been modified to display messages related to the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Below is a screenshot of what it should actually look like.
The “hack” itself is very simple. The translation application displays a list of phrases to the translators and asks for a translation or vote to decide which of the already translated versions should be used. The screenshot below shows this process more clearly.
As you can see, there’s a way to vote up the translation you have submitted, and there isn’t much control over the process. There is of course a translating community, where you can see each translator’s activity. That’s where I found the Facebook usernames of the ‘hackers’: Azad Mamedov, İlayda Şentürk, Christopher Greeneye, Strong Yoke. The names are most probably not real ones, and maybe there are more of them. It is easy to check who has had activity on Armenian translation page from here.
The system is easy to gain and I wouldn’t stop any Armenians from messing with Facebook’s Azerbaijani localization.
Meanwhile, there is some voting for translations activity going on the Armenian localization page (I voted a couple of times too), as a result of which, the page shifts to normal and back to the broken version again. Like I said, a permanent solution is necessary.
Meanwhile, I urge Armenian Facebook users to use the Facebook Translation application and put some order into this mess.