NBC 5 is responding to North Texans who said they lost access to their social media accounts and don’t know why.
They said they tried to fix and follow the help center’s instructions but couldn’t connect with anyone on Facebook or Instagram who could help.
“THERE IS NO CONTACT FOR ME TO RESOLVE THIS PROBLEM”
At 18, Cori Roberson made her love of fashion her living. The high school senior said she spent four years growing her audience to more than 100,000 followers on her Instagram page, Cuurly Coco.
“It’s a passion of mine,” Roberson told NBC 5 Responds. “When I get home from school, all I want to do is make content for people.”
Roberson said her outfit of the day and fashion posts helped her with country brand deals and modeling work.
“I reached out myself to see if there was work, campaigning, or anything I could help with,” Roberson explained.
One afternoon on December 7, she said that the followers had disappeared.
“I had this black screen that came up,” Roberson said. “‘We need to verify your information,’ and I just said, ‘OK, no problem.'”
Roberson said she followed Instagram’s instructions to verify her identity and waited.
“I never got an answer. I just never received anything,” Roberson told NBC 5.
Roberson said she tried to get in touch with Instagram in other ways to find out what happened.
“I look at the help center and there is no information. There is nothing helpful. There is no phone number. There is no email. There is no contact for me to solve this problem.”
Roberson said she has a business account. She has implemented two-factor authentication and told us that she is not aware of any terms she would have broken to take her main source of income offline.
“I signed a lot of these contracts trusting in my account and its stability, but it has put me in such a difficult position that I have to disappoint a lot of people,” Roberson said.
“I never realized that a multi-billion dollar company couldn’t have customer service.”
Carrollton’s Jeff Weaver is also looking for answers about his Facebook account and associated business pages.
“All of that is gone. It just cuts off your legs,” Weaver said.
Weaver showed us an email he received from Facebook early Sunday morning in November reporting a login from Dallas. Weaver showed us a second email, which arrived three minutes later, and said it appeared his account had been accessed. A minute later, Weaver said he received a third email saying his account was suspended for not following community standards.
Weaver said he followed the instructions in the emails to try to regain access to his account. He said the personal account he used to set up three business sites remains disabled with no ability to appeal.
“I never realized that a multi-billion dollar company couldn’t have customer service. There’s no email to email them,” Weaver said.
“YOU ARE NOT YOUR CUSTOMER, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT”
Weaver and Roberson aren’t the only social media users who said they couldn’t get in touch with Instagram, Facebook, or parent company Meta to resolve questions about their accounts.
Our NBC Responds and Telemundo Responde teams across the country counted 595 complaints about hacked, disabled, or disabled Facebook or Instagram accounts, which were declining when teams began collecting data in 2017. Most complaints were received after autumn 2020.
“You have to realize how these are set up and that there is no customer service to call because you are not their customer, you are the product,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Velasquez said the Identity Theft Resource Center is also getting more questions from people about how to get their social media accounts back, with some reporting hackers taking control.
The ITRC said the number of social media account takeover reports it has received for social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, has increased from around 41 in 2020 to 1,829 in 2022 .
Velasquez explains that concerns can only be resolved through the platform itself.
“Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if the platforms had enough resources to actually answer and respond to these questions in a timely manner?” Velasquez said. “Then you wouldn’t have people who were deeply concerned that fraud might be taking place.”
HOW TO BETTER SECURE ACCOUNTS
Velasquez recommends users who use social media for their businesses to have a backup plan to reach customers.
Any social media account owner can take steps to better secure accounts, including using strong passwords of at least 12 characters that contain symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters.
Do not use the same password for other accounts.
Set login alerts and use two-factor authentication to request a security code when someone logs in from an unknown browser or device.
Apply these tips to protect the email account associated with your social media.
ACCESS RESTORED FOR ROBERSON
After Weaver and Roberson contacted NBC 5 Responds, we reached out to Meta several times to ask about their accounts. We haven’t heard back.
On Thursday morning, after trying to get in touch with Instagram for 11 weeks, Roberson said she was able to access her Cuurly Coco Instagram page. Sharing an email she received from Meta Thursday morning, Roberson said her account was accidentally deactivated and reactivated.
Weaver said he still didn’t have access to his account as of Thursday.
“All my personal connections are there. To them, I’m dead. I just disappeared,” Weaver said.
In a story published by our colleagues at NBC’s Washington DC network last fall, Meta said it’s making investments, in part, to further help resolve “support-related concerns” across platforms and improve customer support.
HELP RESOURCES Here is a link to the Instagram Help Center. Here is a link to report a hack to Instagram. In a blog published in December, Instagram wrote that some users can use friends to verify their identity. It also points out that malicious actors do not always use hacked accounts once they gain access. Facebook provides information here to allow users to report a hacked account if they still have access to the account. Facebook has a link here with information on how to report other hacks.
NBC 5 Responds is committed to investigating your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to provide you with answers and, if possible, solutions and a solution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our Customer Complaint Form.