The Nicole Santos Facebook Worm: High School Student's Real Life Affected By Virtual VirusJohn Cave Osborne
One minute, high school student Nicole Santos is minding her own business, simply living her normal life. Nothing out of the ordinary. Well, except maybe for the fact that she’s running for vice president of her class. The next minute? She’s the name behind an incredibly powerful and extremely vulgar Facebook worm that spread to tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of users. The end result is that her life got turned upside down.
Sadly, Santos is just another in a long line of examples of how powerful and immediate the effects of the internet can be. Only unlike many, she did nothing at all invoke the real wrath of the virtual world.
According to Gawker, the worm began to spread on Wednesday night. Though it’s not fit for quoting, suffice it to say that the virus contained a gay slur and other profane language with “Vote for Nicole Santos” sprinkled in between. The worm claimed that the only way to get the offensive verbiage off of your wall was to click “remove this app,” which is precisely what many people did.
Is that right, folks? You didn’t think that maybe, just maybe, whoever was responsible for creating such a vulgar message might have wanted you to click “remove this app”? You didn’t think that clicking might have just make matters worse?
Because that’s what happened. Once “remove this app” was clicked, all of the clickers’ FB friends were spammed with the same Nicole Santos message.
The internet, as it is won’t to do, retaliated against this mysterious Nicole Santos girl. A Facebook page sprung up called, well, I can’t tell you what it was called. But it ended with “Nicole Santos” and began with a phrase that rhymes with Duck You. The page attracted over 20,000 likes.
Etsy vendors were not to be denied. There were multiple vote-for-Nicole-Santos t-hirts available for purchase. YouTube? You bet. A quick parody rap got over 7,000 hits.
Meanwhile, the real Nicole Santos was caught completely off guard. Her friends claim she had nothing to do with the virus, which is easy to believe. If you were to run for vice president of your high school class, would you create a spammy-type worm laden with profanities which berating homosexuals and asked for a vote all in the same breath?
One of Nicole’s friends said that Nicole believes the hacker must have stumbled across her Tumblr blog (which featured a banner asking for votes) and decided to use it in his virus. Then, that hacker first targeted Facebook users who were students at Nicole’s school. With the power of the internet (and the stupidity of people who clicked “remove this app”), it spread from a high school community to a global one.
And what about Nicole, you might wonder? According to one friend, she’s “still in shock.” The teen had to delete her Facebook account as she was inundated with everything from friend requests to death threats.
All, likely, because she decided to seek the vice presidency of her class. Well, that, the natural depravity of a hacker, the power of the internet and the quickness with which people tend to react to such things.
Can you imagine being subjected to so much negativity for a virus you had nothing to do with yet randomly featured your name? I sure hope she wins that election.
My children aren’t of Facebook age just yet, but this is yet another story to tell them when they’re old enough for us to contemplate signing them up.