'Hackers threatened to post fake lewd images', reveals FF councillor
A garda investigation is under way after a Fianna Fail politician told how he was being blackmailed by Facebook hackers who threatened to post "lewd doctored" images to his account.
Councillor Ed O'Brien took to his social media page to announce that, due to hacking of his account and illegal activity, he was temporarily taking it down.
"Threats to put doctored lewd images on my page unless I pay sizeable sums of money to an account have forced this action," the South Dublin county councillor wrote.
"The matter is being investigated by the local gardai and I thank them for their assistance."
Mr O'Brien also advised social media users to be vigilant over accepting friend requests from people they did not know, even if they had shared contacts.
He noted in the post that he looked forward to engaging with his Facebook friends again once he had created a new page.
Fianna Fail said it could not comment on the matter as it was under garda investigation, and Mr O'Brien was not available for comment last night.
Fianna Fail insiders said he had not been discussing the matter with them over the weekend, and the first they heard about it was when they read it on Independent.ie.
"Once gardai are aware of it, I'm sure they will get to the bottom of it, but Ed seems to be unaffected. He hasn't mentioned it in normal conversation, as far as I'm aware," said a source.
Appointed as a Fianna Fail councillor in 2013, Mr O'Brien serves the Lucan and Palmerstown area on South Dublin County Council.
He also works as a solicitor and is respected in the locality and in Fianna Fail.
It is not known how the alleged hackers made contact with Mr O'Brien, or how much money they were trying to extort from him.
The nature of the pictures and their origin was not known.
A garda spokesperson said they could not comment on individual investigations.
It is not known if Facebook will co-operate with the garda investigation in a bid to identify the alleged blackmailers.
Facebook has faced a slew of negative publicity in recent months.
The social networking giant has come in for criticism for failing to identify and remove "fake news" articles on its platform, which critics say has influenced voters in the Brexit referendum and US elections.
Last week, a man randomly shot a 74-year-old man dead in Ohio and live-streamed the killing to Facebook.
The video remained online for almost three hours before it was removed. Gunman Steve Stephens took his own life 48 hours later.
In Sweden, a woman was seen being raped on Facebook Live, while in Chicago last January four people live-streamed footage of themselves physically assaulting an 18-year-old with special needs.
The controversies have led many to question whether Facebook takes seriously the issue of policing objectionable content.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a Silicon Valley conference last week, briefly addressed the Ohio case, saying Facebook had "a lot of work to do" and "we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this".
At the start of this month the company said it had introduced a number of tools to help tackle the rise of "revenge porn" in which people post sexually explicit images of their partner on the platform after their relationship breaks down.