July 4, 2024

04.07.2024 – MediaLook Targeted by Cyber Attacks and Social Media Shutdowns

On 30 June 2024, the personal Facebook account of Elvin Luku, the founder of MediaLook (https://www.medialook.al/) and the Albanian MediaLook Center (https://www.facebook.com/qendrashqiptaremedialook/), was shut down, disrupting access to their social media profiles. Fortunately, the profiles were recovered due to duplicate administration rights.

The reasons for this attack remain unclear. Since 8 June 2024, MediaLook, in collaboration with the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania (Gazetarët Profesionistë të Shqipërisë – APJ Albania – https://www.ifj.org/join-ifj/individual-member/albania), has been hosting roundtables discussing propaganda, disinformation, and the media landscape in Albania.

This social media closure follows a series of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on the MediaLook website that began in early April 2024. These attacks have intermittently disrupted services, posing a persistent cyber threat to the organization. The attacks were originating from IP addresses in India, Pakistan, and Russia. These cyberattacks aim to overwhelm the targeted server, rendering it unusable by flooding it with excessive traffic.

MediaLook, founded by journalist and mass communication researcher Elvin Luku on 13 June 2018, serves as a media about media platform. Continuous disruptions and baseless accusations of violating community standards can undermine the credibility of MediaLook, which is dedicated to analyzing media practices and acting as a media watchdog. The fear of further attacks or closures may lead to self-censorship, preventing MediaLook and similar organizations from publishing certain content.

Earlier this year, Citizens Channel (https://citizens.al/) experienced similar attacks. Following the publication of an investigation, Citizens faced DDoS attacks and subsequent social media content removals on Facebook and Instagram. These attacks were coordinated, targeting multiple profiles simultaneously.

Such cyberattacks pose severe risks to online presence, potentially leading to platform shutdowns and reduced visibility of content due to disrupted engagement algorithms. The ongoing cyber threats underscore the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures and continued advocacy for press freedom and the protection of independent journalism.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) will continue to monitor the developments connected to MediaLook and its administrator, Elvin Luku. Actions to silence critical voices and undermine press freedom in Albania are not acceptable. SEEMO calls the officials in Albania for immediate and thorough investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice and urges authorities to ensure the safety and integrity of MediaLook’s operations.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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