Security personality Graham Cluley has become the target of a hate campaign after a "troll" criticising the British army posted a picture of the anti-virus expert in his Facebook profile.
Graham Cassell started a Facebook group condoning recent attacks on British Army cadets wearing uniform in public.
This stance predictably inflamed middle England residents of the social networking site, some of whom linked the Facebook profile picture posted by "Cassell" with Cluley.
Surfers opposed to Cassell's stance began sending abusive messages to Cluley, including a death threat to his wife, via Facebook. Messages slagging off Cluley were sent to his employer, Sophos. Images of Cluley's head were superimposed on images featuring bestiality and circulated on the net.
The mobilisation of the cyber-mob coincided with a holiday by Cluley in Cambodia. His tormentors refused to believe he was an innocent party. Cluley's attempts to get Facebook itself to pull the profile also floundered. The social networking site initially told him to report the abuse to police.
It was only when he said the picture in the fake profile was copyright infringement that the site took more notice. Even so, the fake profile remained available on Tuesday afternoon.
Cluley has no idea why "Cassell" used his picture. His outspoken comment about virus writers as "spotty nerds" and high profile have made him a target of abuse from that quarter in the past. For example, the Coconut-A virus urged infected users to throw coconuts at pictures of Cluley.
But the Facebook-sparked hate campaign is on a much larger scale.
"People assumed it was me simply because it was my picture," Cluley told El Reg. "I accept that because I have a high profile in the media I leave myself more open to abuse. I'm probably better able to cope with this than most people but the threats against my wife are something else." ®