THE Facebook account of a Cork county councillor was taken over by hackers who posted images of Islamic State flags and messages of support to the terror group.
Midleton-based Fine Gael councillor Susan McCarthy was shocked to find that her Facebook and Instagram profiles were changed to images of the flag of Islamic State.
Mrs McCarthy was also locked out of her accounts which were then deleted by the social media giants.
She tried to log in to her Facebook last Thursday at 11am, only to find herself blocked, and a message from Facebook telling her the that the account, which she has had for over 12 years, had been deleted.
“I was very seriously hacked,” Mrs McCarthy told The Echo.
“They put up a flag of the Islamic State on all my stuff, my Facebook page, community page, and Instagram page.
“I got such a shock, I was very upset about it. I didn’t really care about my work page, but my personal page; 12 years worth of photos and memories.
“It becomes a bit of a road map.
“I have family members in the States and Australia and Canada and I don’t have an address for some of them and it would have meant no more contact.”
The councillor said Facebook refused to engage with her over the issue, and it was only after she got on to the IT department at Fine Gael headquarters that the social media network site said it was possible to retrieve her original page.
“They told me my account was deleted, and they would not be discussing the matter any further,” she said.
“There was no recourse, it was very hard to get in contact with the support centre, and then I got a very strongly-worded email back saying that account has been permanently deleted, and ‘we will not be discussing this further’.”
Fortunately, thanks to Fine Gael headquarters, she was able to liaise with Facebook and explain she was a public representative and that her account had been hacked.
“I had an email at 7.10am that morning, saying someone had tried to log in to my account, and four hours later I was blocked entirely,” said Mrs McCarthy.
“In four hours, they had already posted a range of content, all of my icons were changed.
“They did an awful lot of work in a very short space of time.”
The councillor said from what she has been told, it is extremely unusual for a Facebook account to be hacked.
“The Fine Gael IT department said that it is so rare.
“You only get two or three attempts at your password and, apparently, they got the password right.
“It was highly sophisticated.”
Ms McCarthy said that she thought it was a random attack and not a targeted one and her main worry at the moment is retrieving her social media pages with 12 years of contacts and memories.
“Facebook needs to look at their policies and allow councillors to have professional pages,” she said.
“I think the Facebook policy needs to be changed. It is too easy for them to just ignore.”