Is the Facebook giraffe riddle a hoax?
Is the Facebook giraffe riddle a hoax? (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

What started out as a fun and collective activity on the social media website, the Facebook Giraffe riddle has taken a different turn. There were reports that suggested that it was an attempt by hacking group Anonymous to hack into user accounts, but this fear appears to be baseless.

Several posts on Facebook indicated the game was apparently designed to hack the accounts of online users who participated in it, but according to the latest reports the hacking attempt was a hoax.

According to the blog, which explains the technical process of changing profile pictures, changing it to an image of a giraffe sourced from a non-malicious website is not going to give hackers access to a users' password. It will also not make Facebook users targets for hackers.

Also, according to, it would be completely out of character for the group Anonymous, which is known for attacking high-profile targets like government and corporate websites, to be involved in such an activity.

Earlier, a post on Facebook stated that the giraffe challenge was the group's (Anonymous) "cleansing program," which involved wiping out bank accounts and hard drives of Facebook users with giraffe profile pictures.

"It's been done in the past, but with HTML code instead of the JPEG. It is a virus, but it didn't spread very far. We've only had two reports of it," said chief technical officer for SANS' Internet Storm Center James Thompson.

"When you do it, Facebook automatically gives the hackers your user mail and password, malicious code embedded in the JPEG image gives the hackers everything they need," said to Mr. Thompson.

Here are some of the warning posts, circulating Facebook with regards to this matter:

As shared on Facebook, Oct. 28, 2013:
Just found out that the Giraffe challenge was set up by the hacking group "Anonymous". Apparently they're going to embark on a random 'cleansing' program which will wipe out the bank accounts and hard drives of those people who have giraffe profile pics...A few of my FB friends have already had it happen, so change your pics back & Delete the game!!!

As shared on Facebook, Oct. 28, 2013:
HEY!!!! GIRAFFE PEOPLE!! Change your pics back to normal, apparently it's a hoax for someone to hack you! Just passing it on from something I've read!

As shared on Facebook, Oct. 28, 2013:
Just read that the giraffe game was set up by the group anonymous to hack bank accounts and hard drives of those who changed their profile pictures to a giraffe

Ultimately, this whole thing looks like a typical online prank. Here's what says: "The giraffe game may be a genuine bit of fun, but the associated virus warning is nothing but bunk. There is no virus lurking in JPEG-based images of giraffes, and Facebook users who change their profile pictures to photographs or drawings of giraffes do not risk compromising their computers and Facebook accounts to hackers."