13-Year-Old Chinese Hacker Behind Facebook Outage? Not Quite!

·3-min read

Following the biggest outage of Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram services till date, for over six hours on 4 October, a photo of a boy is being shared on social media with the claim that he is a Chinese hacker who is responsible for the outage. The information is being attributed to international news agency Reuters.

However, we found that the photo is of Wang Zhengyang, China's youngest hacker, who had participated at the 2014 Internet Security Conference (ISC) in Beijing and was 13-year-old back then.

Further, we found no such report on Reuters which held Zhengyang responsible for the outage.

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CLAIM

The photo of a child is being shared with the claim that Reuters has reported that he is a "13-year-old Chinese hacker Sun Jisu" who is "responsible for shutting down Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram services".

<div class="paragraphs"><p>An archive of the post can be seen <a href="https://perma.cc/3XJL-4E7L" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>. </p></div>

An archive of the post can be seen here.

Several Facebook users have shared the photo along with the similar claims and the archived link can be seen here, here, and here.

Twitter users have also shared the same claim, however, without the photo.

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WHAT WE FOUND

We conducted a reverse image search on the photo and found an article at the Daily Mail UK published on 8 October 2014 identifying him as Wang Zhengyang, a 13-year-old who's been dubbed China's 'hacking prodigy'.

The report said that at the two-day ISC held in Beijing in 2014, Zhangyang had said that he wanted to "use his powers for good" and "those who hack all day for profit are immoral".

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Wang Zhengyang, a 13-year-old who's been dubbed China's 'hacking prodigy'</p></div>

Wang Zhengyang, a 13-year-old who's been dubbed China's 'hacking prodigy'

We also found another news report on the website of 'China News Service', a state-owned news agency, published on 29 September 2014.

The photo caption reads, "Wang Zhengyang, the youngest hacker in China, attends and speaks at 2014 China Internet Security Conference in Beijing on 24 Sep 2014."

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Report from 2014. </p></div>

Report from 2014.

Next, we also looked for any news reports by Reuters reporting about any such news using relevant keywords, but didn't come across any.

It must be noted that Facebook had said in a statement that the incident was "purely an internal issue and there were no malicious third parties or bad actors involved in causing it", adding that its investigation showed no impact to user data confidentiality or integrity.

Clearly, a photo of a Wang Zhengyang, who was 13-year-old in 2014, is being falsely shared as the hacker who was responsible for the outage.

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