Monday, November 17, 2008

Emergency announcement from please help

I found this over at Grasping for the Wind and decided to copy it across here for y'all as I know some readers from here belong to SF Crowsnest.

Hi all,

Stephen here, in the rather ridiculous situation of having to write to you and all of's others readers to ask for your help.

Yesterday afternoon, a minute after posting an update to the two FaceBook groups I founded, the Magazine FaceBook group at (for the magazine), and the Rule Jackelia FaceBook group (for readers of my novels) at, FaceBook sent me an automated message to say this was spamming and immediately cancelled my account.

An hour after that I started being flooded by personal complaints from members of the Magazine FaceBook group saying that the group now had someone called 'Tore Heimstad' installed as administrator (not appointed as admin by me, I assure you!) who was using the Magazine FaceBook group' admin 'message all' function to send out a spam via FaceBook to our sci-fi magazine's thousands of readers that began 'Hey guys. if u think that u look good and if u have CONFIDENCE, then join our pageant group on eupee .' (don't ask, groan).

I can only presume that this breech of our FaceBook group is a major hack of the recently upgraded FaceBook system, but I am currently in the ridiculous situation of not even being able to contact my own FaceBook friends to inform them of this terrible situation, with my account now being cancelled.

I have repeatedly been contacting FaceBook's staff e-mails since yesterday (Friday 15th November 2008) and as of twelve hours later have received nothing but canned autoresponders in return.


If you are a FaceBook user, please note, the Magazine FaceBook group has been hijacked. As of yesterday, any messages sent by it are NOT from staff or myself and should be treated as hostile - e.g. potentially containing or leading to scams, malware, compromised web pages and the like.

Please post news of this on your FaceBook profile and let all of your own FaceBook friends know as a matter of urgency.

Secondly, if you run a blog or zine, please spread news that the Magazine FaceBook group at has been hijacked by hostiles and refer them to this warning which is now prominently linked from our own home page and can be found at - I will keep this page updated with developments and any explanation/apology from FaceBook as and when (or if) I get it.

So far only the Magazine FaceBook group at has been hijacked, but seeing it was myself that was singled out by FaceBook hackers, I would suggest also treating any messages from my Rule Jackelia FaceBook group at and my personal Stephen Hunt FaceBook account at as being fatally compromised, as I'm certainly not in control of these two accounts either anymore.


On a personal note, this is grief I really don't need at the moment.

I'm in the midst of finishing my fourth fantasy novel for HarperCollins, provisionally entitled The Fires of Jago, and am also working furiously with HarperCollins on the February 2009 launch of my third title in the Jackelian sequence, The Rise of the Iron Moon. These are both big calls on my time, and I could do without crisis management of someone else's technical failings - something that was only intended to provide a bit of extra community for my loyal readers.

As fans of my novels know, I came to the social networking 'revolution' a good few years after everyone else, taking the rather curmudgeonly view that it was all a big time-suck and could only be a distraction to my writing. And hey, I was one of pioneers of the Internet, and all this new-fangled web 2.0 stuff was just a cunning ploy to squeeze more money out of gullible venture capitalists etc, right? After being barraged by requests to join various social networks by readers of my novels and friends, however, I belatedly decided to bow to the inevitable and signed up with FaceBook.

I did this in the face of strong and continual opposition from my dear friend and's own editor, Geoff Willmetts, who has always refused to join social networks, citing all the usual security concerns you hear trumpeted in the media - they're a den of identity thieves, you'll find yourself ripped off, mortgages being taken out in your name by ID creeps etc.

I wrote those views off as being unduly influenced by media hysteria and joined FaceBook anyway. So here my first apology - to Geoff. You were right, old chum. I was wrong. Humble pie eaten. I'll be sticking to the first rule of web-mastering that has always stood me in good stead with - if you don't code it yourself, don't trust it (it's a variation on the old adage: if you want something done properly, do it yourself). No more FaceBook for me.

My second apology is to the members of the Magazine FaceBook group - you should really be getting it from the staff at FaceBook, but I suspect we'll all be waiting a long time for that one. Sorry for you getting rubbish e-mails from the mysterious FaceBook group hijacker, Tore Heimstad. And Tore, or whoever you really are, all I have to pass onto you is an old Circlist saying much favoured in the Kingdom of Jackals - what goes around, comes around. Sooner or later, Tore, you'll be getting yours.

And lastly, a word to the ghosts of my fellow fantasy authors at HarperCollins, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, in whose shadow I always inexpertly stumble; guys, you don't know how lucky you were to have been writing your novels in an age when Bebo was a sound you would only hear gurgled from inside a pram, and a FaceBook was a school jotter that someone had inked with 'Kilroy Was Here'.

Yours, deeply frustrated and angry


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