Facebook hack leaves local family locked out of their own business page
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A bizarre series of events left Michelle Hackman unable to operate a key part of her business. Early last week, Hackman woke up to learn her Facebook page had been hacked. The issue with her personal social media account became a threat to her livelihood when she was shut out of her Facebook business account as well.
“We had a really big event this weekend where we usually communicate with all of our clients and runners about an event through Facebook. It’s the fastest, easiest way to do it, and we have no access. And we have no recourse. We cannot reach anyone at Facebook,” Hackman explained.
Hackman and her husband own It’s Go Time, an event management company that specializes in managing triathlons, marathons and s. Over the last ten years, they’ve developed a large following on Facebook, and have come to rely on social media to share information with participants leading up to a race, as well as pictures and results when the race is finished. But after the hack last week, the Hackmans found themselves frozen, unable to connect with any of the 3500 participants for this weekend’s events on the platform where people were looking for race updates.
The Hackmans are still trying to piece together what went wrong. At some point after she went to sleep on Tuesday, the hacker took over Michelle’s personal Facebook page. They proceeded to hack into several business pages where she is an administrator and then kicked all of her co-administrators out. In a sick twist, the hackers then used Michelle’s personal Facebook profile to send out child pornography to some of her contacts through Facebook messenger. Before she even knew what was happening, Michelle had been permanently banned from Facebook.
“I received... notice from Facebook saying that I had violated the community standards and they had permanently disabled my account and they would not reactivate it,” Hackman said. “I feel like we are being punished. We are the innocent victim, we were hacked, I would never obviously send any video like that. I get it. They have to crack down on that hard, right away and swiftly. But, I still haven’t been able to find anybody to connect with at Facebook to say, ‘Hey, that was not me.’”
Making matters worse, the hackers got access to the Hackmans’ business credit cards linked to their Go Time Facebook account. It’s Go Time spends an estimated $10,000 a year with the social media giant boosting posts and doing other advertising. The hackers, who appear to be operating out of Vietnam, have now used the credit card numbers trying to make fraudulent purchases.
Even as paying customers, the Hackmans have been unable to get anyone at Facebook on the phone to help them. They say it’s been a wake-up call to how little control you have over your own social media pages.
“You don’t own it, and at any minute the entire thing can be pulled from you — all of your business clients, all of your contacts, all of your posts, all of your pictures. Anything can be pulled from you at any moment,” Hackman told WECT. She reluctantly tried to start a new Facebook page from scratch, but couldn’t even do that because her email address and cell phone number have been flagged by Facebook.
Getting through to customer support at Facebook is not easy. When Hackman has tried through the customer support links provided online (there is no phone number provided to the public to reach a Facebook representative), she says she is immediately shut down. They tell her she has violated community standards and is permanently banned.
WECT sent an email to Facebook’s press office last week asking about the situation and has yet to receive a response. We have reached out to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein to see if he has any additional advice to offer, and will update this story if he responds.
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