Bay.com.mt spoke to Maria*, a Maltese University Student in her final year, who like the rest of us was adapting to being at home, whilst continuing her studies And her thesis, in isolation. Like the rest of us, Maria found solace in social media in these challenging times, to keep in touch with friends, to look back at photos of when things were “normal”, and to keep herself updated with the latest news and gossip.
One fine day though, Maria’s day took an unexpected turn as she discovered something had happened to her Facebook account, just as she decided to focus solely on her thesis.
“I am in my final year, and I was working on my thesis, so I had everything off, and my phone wasn’t even next to me,” Maria told Bay, “and you know how it is, after a while, I needed a break, and, as one does, I checked my phone, and got onto social media.”
One of the Profile Pictures which ISIS are known to have changed in past attacks
“I’m Like, HEY, What Happened Here?”
Maria then tell us that once she got into her Facebook app, “I realised that my profile picture was not mine, and thank God, this was just 10 minutes after it was somehow changed.”
Maria’s profile picture had symbols on it, and the cover photo also had some sort of script in a language which she could not recognise.
“After some research, I realised that my profile picture and my cover photo were infact ISIS symbols. This made perfect sense, even after I realised that my friends list had shot up, with perfect strangers, who obviously I didn’t know,” Maria said.
“I genuinely thought that I was going to fix things myself.”
Maria tried to change her passwords and alert Facebook about the hack, since obviously the profile, and the messages on the profile photo and the cover photo were not in line with Facebook’s community guidelines.
“I also noticed that this happened to other people that week, so I decided to send an email to Facebook, but all I got was automated replies,” Maria said, explaining that she didn’t think of contacting the Cyber Crime Unit in Malta, as she genuinely thought that she was going to fix things herself.
“I have lost everything”
In an attempt to end this short but stressful nightmare, Maria deleted her hacked profile and created a new one, and had to “start afresh.”
“Obviously, I have lost everything. In reality, the fresh start does feel nice, but having those memories there at my disposal, especially in these challenging times, was a nice feeling. I know this is a first-world problem, but staying connected and keeping updated with all that is going on at the moment is what is truly needed,”
Maria told us.
“Be Careful Online”
We asked Maria what advise she would give to all those reading this article, and who definitely use social media.
Her advise was simple: “Be careful online, always, and evaluate what you share and what you post online, before you actually do; have strong passwords; always backup your photos.”
*We are using the fictitious name Maria to protect the identity of the person.