Facebook has warned around 50,000 users that they may have been targeted by “cyber mercenaries”, as the company tries to stop private companies hired by authoritarian countries to spy on people.
The victims included “journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes, [and] families of opposition and human rights activists” the company warned in a report published on Thursday.
In its warning it said: “We believe that a sophisticated attacker may be targeting your Facebook account. Be cautious when accepting friend requests and interacting with people you don’t know. We recommend you take the Privacy Checkup and we’ll guide you through the steps for how to keep your Facebook account secure.”
Facebook, which recently changed its name to Meta, said that these attacks are part of wider issue of cyber security and hackers.
Meta said it had disabled seven entities that had been targeted people in over 100 countries as well as issued cease and desist letters, according to Sky News.
The seven surveillance-for-hire groups are based in China, Israel, India and North Macedonia, and are similar to the NSO Group, the Israeli spyware firm that was recently sanctioned by the US government.