I received a text from my publicity/website team that someone was posing as me on social media, so my password needed to changed. At first I was amused—why on earth would anybody want to pass themselves off as me? As an author having published several books, I have a nice following, but I’m no Louise Penny. I’m older, live in the suburbs, volunteer frequently, and get regular exercise.
My team noted it was more than likely a bot was responsible, and a machine doesn’t care. They immediately reported the hack to the platform. Note that I said “my team” reported it. The platform itself didn’t contact me until two days later (and only because my team reported it). The email said they would look into the breach. A member of my team wrote me: “I knew your social media had been compromised because I got a friend request from you with your profile photo, name, etc., and we’re already friends on the platform. This can happen when a bot gets access to your account and friend list.” The fake me had no friends, raising red flags.
Other platforms have beefed up security while Facebook lags woefully behind. I decided to find out why. In July 2019, Mathew Katz wrote an article for Best Buy’s Digital Trends, Why Facebook doesn’t help after your account gets hacked. Turns out, Facebook could easily help you but chooses not to. Katz cited real life examples of users who not only had their accounts hacked but lost money, data, and more. Katz writes, “Facebook’s billions of users have little recourse when their accounts are hacked or otherwise compromised. The social network uses automated systems to detect suspicious activity and reset people’s passwords, but anything beyond that forces users to wind their way through an unhelpful labyrinth of customer support reps with limited administrative access. Or they might not be able to reach a human being at all.
“A recent $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought along with it a slew of new privacy rules for the company, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said would require the work of ‘hundreds of engineers.’ But when it comes to customer service staff—representatives needed to deal with users who are confused or need help in the aftermath of an account hack—Facebook is lacking, according to consumer advocates and users who have dealt with hacks firsthand.”
What? Maybe I’m simply naïve. Then I realized in dismay that to a behemoth like Facebook, $5 billion is bus change. Katz goes on to say that the customer service at Facebook is so bad that scammers have taken to creating FAKE FACEBOOK HELP LINES to steal data and money. But (and this was news to me), Facebook does not consider us customers. To them, we are USERS. Facebook only wants our data to target us with advertising (getting us to spend money). Katz quotes Joseph Ridout of Consumer Action who says, “I wouldn’t say that they’re not capable of dealing with consumers’ privacy issues, I would say they’re more than capable of it, but they’re totally uninterested because it’s not a profitable activity,” Ridout added.“The article is well-worth reading for great information on what Facebook is really after and tips to protect yourself.
- Have your account continually monitored (website admin, for example) so any breach is caught quickly by someone besides Facebook. The money spent paying a reputable person or firm is well worth the headaches of being impersonated, losing access to your account, or worse.
- Be suspicious when receiving Friend Requests from people you know already from Facebook. In my fake profile I had apparently lived nowhere, never attended school, held a job, or had any friends.
- The same goes for people you don’t know or is affiliated with someone or a group you’re familiar with.
- If you’re responsible for your Facebook account, have a plan in place—reputable and knowledgeable and genuine humans who can help.
Did Facebook ever bother to let me know they’ve corrected this issue? No. Still waiting. Thank goodness I have a team that actually cares.