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Social media giant Facebook has announced a new security feature that will notify users it believes are being targeted by “government-sponsored” attackers.

As of Friday, Facebook will notify users if it believes that their accounts have been “compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state”.

Facebook’s CSO John Stamos revealed the new addition to the social media site’s security in a note published last week, along with a sample of the notification that users will now receive.

“While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored,” said Stamos.

“We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts.”

To secure accounts, Facebook asks users for their mobile number in order to enable two-step authentication by sending a verification code to their phone.

While this may seem inefficient in light of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s recent revelations – that GCHQ can take over user’s smartphones – most users seem satisfied with the new feature.

Reza Moaiandin, the software engineer who discovered a serious flaw with Facebook’s mobile security in early August, told Business Reporter: “In some ways, it’s actually a better form of safety – like all two-factor authentication, it should stop people accessing accounts which don’t belong to them.”

Stamos emphasised that receiving the notifications did not imply that the firm itself had been breached, but that it could mean that user devices have been compromised or potentially infected with malware.

He also said that Facebook cannot explain to members of the public how it decides that certain parties are responsible for certain attacks, although Stamos took pains to highlight that the site will “use this warning only in situations where the evidence strongly supports our conclusion”.

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