More than two dozen employees and contractors at Meta, formerly known as Facebook, were fired or disciplined in the last year for improperly taking over users’ accounts.
The Wall Street Journal reported the alleged abuse of an internal Facebook system called Oops that allowed employees to help users who had forgotten their passwords or had their accounts hacked.
The newspaper revealed that Facebook workers had accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from outside hackers to access user accounts, while security contractors had also been given access to the internal system.
One contractor was fired in February after allegedly receiving thousands in bitcoin for resetting multiple accounts on behalf of hackers, the internal documents revealed, although they denied any wrongdoing.
Meta has around 3 billion users across its platforms but its customer service is almost non existent.
Users locked out of their account are directed to automated systems to regain access but the Oops system can be a method of last resort if a Facebook employee will fill out a form.
However, the system is only meant to be used in special cases, but according to documents seen by WSJ its usage leapt to 50,270 tasks in 2020 compared to 22,000 three years earlier.
“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,” Nick McCandless, whose company McCandless Group operates a platform for content creators, told WSJ.
As a result, account recovery services have boomed with users charged a fee in the thousands to regain access to accounts, even though it’s against the terms of terms of service for the platform.
Many of the recovery services have contacts within Meta allowing them access to the Oops system, according to WSJ.
“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 spokesman Andy Stone.