FB gets all-clear after sarin scare


Facebook's Silicon Valley campus has received the all-clear after fears that a package at its mail facility contained the nerve agent sarin.

Four of the social media company's buildings were evacuated on Monday and two people were checked for possible exposure to the compound that attacks the nervous system and can be fatal.

But exhaustive testing by fire and hazardous material teams found no toxic material, said Jon Johnston, fire marshal for the city of Menlo Park in California where Facebook is based.

"There is no sarin," he said yesterday, referring to the package that had erroneously tested positive on Monday.

Facebook routinely checks all packages and had initiated a standard safety protocol, Johnston added.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents also went to the scene, Facebook said.

With 2.3 billion monthly active users and more than US$55 billion (HK$429 billion) in revenue last year, Facebook is popular around the world but also faces criticism for its control of personal information and has been subject to cyber attacks.

In December, it had a bomb threat at its main campus in Menlo Park that forced the evacuation of several buildings. No bomb was found.

Sarin was used in a 1995 attack by a Japanese cult on a subway that killed 13 people and injured several thousand.

More recently, Syria's government has been accused of using sarin against insurgents during their civil war. It denies that.

Sarin is a chemical warfare agent that is a clear, colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid. It can evaporate into the environment, prompting symptoms within seconds.

A drop of sarin on skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching, and exposure to large doses can result in paralysis and respiratory failure leading to death.

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