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Meta reportedly fired staff for hijacking Facebook and Instagram accounts

Some employees supposedly took bribes.
MENLO PARK, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Visitors take photos in front of Meta (Facebook) sign in Menlo Park, California, United States on November 14, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|November 17, 2022 11:58 AM

Meta is apparently cracking down on employees who abuse their behind-the-scenes access. The Wall Street Journal sources claim Meta has fired or punished over two dozen workers for hijacking Facebook and Instagram accounts over the past year. Some of the offenders reportedly used Meta's account recovery tool, "Oops," and even took "thousands of dollars" in bribes from outsiders seeking access.

The perpetrators included Allied Universal's contracted security guards at Meta locations, according to the sources. The Journal has also interviewed companies that say they charge social media users for access to insiders willing to retrieve accounts despite company policy.

The Oops tool lets workers file reports about inaccessible accounts with the community support them, which then restores control. It's meant to be used only in rare situations, such as for public personalities and family members, and asks questions about the source of the request. Its use has supposedly climbed in recent years, The Journal says, jumping from 22,000 "tasks" in 2017 to 50,270 in 2020.

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We've asked Meta for comment. In a statement, spokesperson Andy Stone said the company would continue to take "appropriate action" against anyone selling fraudulent services. Allied Universal said it always "seriously" responds to conduct violation reports.

The firings are small compared to Meta's overall (if now greatly reduced) headcount. However, they might produce mixed results for the social networking giant's reputation. While it gets rid of employees who misused their powers, it comes roughly a year after allegations that Meta let VIPs break the rules, and three years after the company discovered that employees had access to exposed user passwords. Simply put, it hasn't always been clear that accounts have been secure and treated equally.

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Meta reportedly fired staff for hijacking Facebook and Instagram accounts