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41 state attorneys general tell Meta to fix their customer support for hacking victims

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A group of 41 state attorneys general are demanding that Meta step up its support services for users who have been victims of hacks and account takeovers. “We refuse to operate as the customer service representatives of your company,” the group writes in a letter addressed to Meta’s chief legal officer. “We request Meta take immediate action and substantially increase its investment in account takeover mitigation tactics, as well as responding to users whose accounts were taken over.”

The letter, which was first by Wired, pushes Meta to deal with an issue that has long been a source of frustration to Facebook and Instagram users: the difficulty in accessing support after you lose access to your account. Though the company has taken steps over the years to make it easier for people lost accounts, Meta largely relies on automated systems and there are still many people who fall through cracks.

As the letter highlights, this can be especially devastating for people who lose access to business accounts and pages. Even can find themselves unable to get support from a human employee of the company unless they have a personal connection to someone who works at Meta. Other users sometimes resort to or hiring their own to get their accounts back.

While it may seem surprising that state law enforcement officials would get involved in this issue, Reddit and other online forums for hacking victims often advise people to lodge complaints with their local AG’s office as a last resort. Some users have regaining to their accounts after a state attorney general’s office intervened on their behalf.

Now, AGs are apparently flooded with such requests. “Our offices have experienced a dramatic and persistent spike in complaints in recent years concerning account takeovers that is not only alarming for our constituents but also a substantial drain on our office resources,” the letter states.

In addition to putting more resources into customer service, the letter asks Meta to provide more details on “the number of account takeovers over the past five years; suspected causes of the increase in account takeovers; safeguards currently in place to prevent account takeovers; current policies and procedures related to Meta’s response to account takeovers; and staffing related to safeguarding the platforms against account takeovers as well as responding to complaints.”

In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said that “scammers use every platform available to them and constantly adapt to evade enforcement” from the company. “We invest heavily in our trained enforcement and review teams and have specialized detection tools to identify compromised accounts and other fraudulent activity. We regularly share tips and tools people can use to protect themselves, provide a means to report potential violations, work with law enforcement and take legal action.”

In 2022, Bloomberg that Meta was in the “early stages” creating a customer service division that would be able to help users with account issues. It’s unclear what became of the plan. Later that year, the company laid off thousands of employees. In their letter, the state AGs notes that they saw an uptick in complaints “around the same time Meta announced a massive layoff of around 11,000 employees in November 2022, which reportedly focused on the ‘security and privacy and integrity sector.’”

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