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Facebook Employees Took Bribes To Hijack User Accounts

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There are automated processes to try and retrieve an account whenever a user is locked out, including contacting Meta by phone or email, which is often a fruitless endeavor. Now, its been revealed that Facebook employees took bribes to hijack user accounts.

Facebook Employees Took Bribes To Hijack User Accounts

The Wall Street Journal, quoting sources acquainted with the situation and documents viewed by the outlet, reports that Facebook parent Meta has fired or disciplined over two dozen employees and contractors over the past year who have been suspected of wrongfully hijacking user accounts, in certain instances for bribes.

In several circumstances, the suspects took bribes worth thousands of dollars from outside hackers.

Some of those fired were contractors who worked as security guards stationed at Meta facilities and were given access to the Facebook parent’s internal mechanism for employees to help users having trouble with their accounts, according to the documents and people familiar with the matter.

-WSJ

During the early years of the firm, a function called “Oops,” was developed to assist users who had either forgotten their passwords or emails or had their accounts compromised by hackers.

“Individuals selling fraudulent services are always targeting online platforms, including ours, and adapting their tactics in response to the detection methods that are commonly used across the industry,” said Meta spokesperson Andy Stone, adding that the firm would continue taking “appropriate action against those involved in these kinds of schemes.”

According to a statement from the contractor Allied Universal, the company “takes seriously all reports of violations of our standards of conduct.”

There are automated processes to try and retrieve an account whenever a user is locked out, including contacting Meta by phone or email, which is often a fruitless endeavor.

The term “Oops,” which stands for Online Operations, is meant to be used only in exceptional situations, such as those involving close friends, family, business partners, and public figures who want to get help ahead of the queue. It handled more than 50,000 tasks in 2020, up from 22,000 just three years prior. The employee or contractor provides an email address to be reset in order to submit a Oops report. A series of questions must be addressed, according to the Journal, including if the request is being made for a member of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s staff, a famous person, a partner at Meta, or a relative.

Because so many people depend on social media for their businesses, or to manage critically important aspects of their lives, gaining illicit control of an account can be lucrative. Stolen Facebook and Instagram handles can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars on other online forums.

But in part because the Oops system is off limits to the vast majority of Facebook users, a cottage industry of intermediaries has developed who charge users money to regain control of their accounts. In interviews with the Journal, some of those third parties claim to have access to Meta employees to help reset accounts.

-WSJ

“When you take someone’s Instagram account down that they’ve spent years building up, you’re taking away their whole means of generating an income,” said Nick McCandless, whose organization McCandless Group currently runs a platform for content creators and charges people to reset their accounts via an inside contact at Meta.

“You really have to have someone on the inside who will actually do it.”

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