How a Band's Facebook Was Hacked and Turned into a Meme Hub
We spoke to the Leeds psych-rock band about what happened when their page turned into "Top Viral Videos".
Here's an oddly sinister story: Weirds are a pysch-rock band from Leeds and with a gently rising profile. They just went out on tour with The Wytches, and their debut album Swarmculture is due out on indie label Alcopop Records on 26 May. So far, so good.
But recently an incident of a very weird kind (ha ha) threw the band into disarray, when they found their Facebook page, which they had used to build up a fanbase and communicate with fans directly, hacked. While they were otherwise engaged on tour, the page had turned an entirely different one called, uh, "Top Viral Videos." This meant that the band not only lost a number of photos and videos from over the course of their career so far, but also that their page, which on their watch had 3,000 likes, was left with over 100,000. I'll let Weirds explain in full:
The band have appealed to those who liked the page in its "Viral Videos" guise to unlike it, while apologising to fans who had to deal with two-week old Twitter posts and Vines of children yelling on their feed. Happily, they've now been given back control of the page, and those pesky viral videos have been vanquished.
But, there's something kind of unsettling about this isn't there? It's definitely a warning to bands – or indeed anyone with a considerable internet following – to back up their memories so they don't end up lost, but it's more than that too: there's a sense that the internet is just one massive hunting ground where, if you have a big enough following and aren't protected, you too will get hacked and your following used to launch a page which posts videos called "You Won't Believe That This Restaurant Only Serves Cheese," and so on. This is bad news for small bands who are beginning to gain traction independently, and points to the fact that though it's such an intrinsic part of our lives these days, social media isn't infallible.
UPDATE: Weirds have sent us a statement with their take on what this sort of hack feels like from the inside and what it means in a broader sense. We're running part of below – the internet is a strange place.
"On the whole, this shows a darker side to the way we all use social media today. As soon as you make a Facebook account you sign away your power to a huge corporation, and when that relationship is compromised, it can be devastating for small, independent artists like us. Bands, businesses, artists, filmmakers, whatever, rely on social media as the main port of call for new fans. We live in a time where, particularly in music, your Facebook page is sadly an indicator of your success to people that haven't heard of you before, which makes it an inescapable necessity.
Even though the hack hadn't affected our day to day lives – we were still playing shows and doing what we do – it felt like the reputation and following we had cultivated online, which is what everyone is so dependent on, had been lost. On a serious note, it was weird how depressing the situation actually was. It was like a really mundane episode of Black Mirror set in a van on the M1. Unfortunately, it felt to us like there could be one day in the world where everyone's online existence was compromised, and everyone would re-evaluate how dependent we've become on social media platforms. It's made us definitely reflect on how we use social media for the band."
They ended thanking the fans who've stuck with them through the mess – "and finally, we'd just like to say thanks to whoever hacked the page, because without them we wouldn't be speaking to Noisey now."
Follow Lauren on Twitter.
(Image via Weirds on Twitter)