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After Facebook account hack and weeks-long ban, B.C. woman calls for social media transparency, accountability

Written by on November 3, 2021

A North Vancouver actual property agent is looking for extra accountability and transparency from Fb after her accounts had been banned for seven weeks.

Patricia Houlihan mentioned after a hacking try, she was banned from Fb and WhatsApp, each owned by the newly rebranded Meta firm.

“It is essential to my enterprise, so I used to be panicking,” Houlihan mentioned. “I would misplaced all of these contacts. All those on my enterprise web page, my 400 or 500 buddies … household, et cetera. And the way do you recreate all that, proper? These are individuals which are everywhere in the world.”

On Aug. 17, Houlihan acquired a message on Fb purportedly from Microsoft tech help asking her to name a quantity.

Patricia Houlihan obtained her accounts again after seven weeks, however says she by no means ought to have been banned within the first place. (Antonin Sturlese/CBC)

Whereas on the road, she realized the quantity wasn’t truly Microsoft’s and hung up.

Shortly after, Houlihan’s accounts had been suspended. She acquired a message from Fb claiming she posted content material violating group requirements, which she denies. 

She mentioned Fb did not clarify what was posted, citing privateness causes.

“You are telling me I posted it. What’s the privateness difficulty right here in case you actually assume I posted it?” Houlihan mentioned.

Houlihan mentioned that for weeks after her account was banned, that is the message she would get when logging onto Fb. (Patricia Houlihan)

On Oct. 5, seven weeks later, Houlihan’s Fb accounts had been again with out rationalization.

Per week after CBC contacted Meta about Houlihan’s story, her WhatsApp account was restored though her contacts had been deleted.

A Meta spokesperson confirmed the bans had been misguided. Since considered one of Houlihan’s accounts was flagged, all had been banned.

A spokesperson for Meta mentioned relating to account and content material points, their groups are targeted on issues that would trigger real-world hurt. This will result in some points taking longer than others to resolve. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Consultants say this example is an instance of how social media firms might be unresponsive to customers and the way their processes might be opaque.

‘It is ludicrous, actually’

Meta acknowledged that shedding account entry might be distressing and mentioned they attempt for transparency. Their spokesperson could not say what sort of content material hackers tried to publish with Houlihan’s accounts. 

Houlihan requested a assessment of her ban by way of Fb’s attraction course of, which was denied. She mentioned it was irritating she could not attain a human at Fb. 

Cybersecurity professional Chester Wisniewski says Houlihan sounds to be the sufferer of a hack. He says he believes Meta was overzealous in banning her account for such a very long time. (Antonin Sturlese/CBC)

“I do not know the way an enormous company like that may be so arduous to get in contact with,” she mentioned. “It is ludicrous, actually.”

The Meta spokesperson despatched CBC hyperlinks for customers in search of assist however Houlihan mentioned she and her buddies tried these unsuccessfully.

Chester Wisniewski says over the past 9 months or so, as an alternative of calling potential victims immediately or sending them emailed hyperlinks, hackers are asking them to name bogus cellphone numbers to direct them additional into their scams. (Chester Wisniewski)

Chester Wisniewski, lead analysis scientist at cybersecurity agency Sophos, mentioned he suspects hackers had been making an attempt to make use of Houlihan’s accounts to unfold their bogus cellphone quantity to different potential victims. 

“You’d assume with the tons of of billions of {dollars} a 12 months they make, [Meta] may perhaps employees a small assist desk to assist individuals out,” Wisniewski mentioned.

“It may be actually scary to get locked out of considered one of these platforms in case you’re somebody who depends on them.”

He mentioned anybody who receives a message allegedly from an organization like Microsoft should not name any quantity offered and lookup their cellphone quantity themselves.

Balancing person entry with safety from on-line harms

Houlihan mentioned she agrees platforms ought to ban dangerous accounts or content material, like hate speech and misinformation. However, she argued, customers ought to get a good listening to when banned.

“[Social media] has infiltrated all of our enterprise and social interactions to such an extent that I believe as members of the general public, we need to be protected,” she mentioned.

Houlihan mentioned she believes governments ought to do extra to mandate what social media firms owe their customers. 

Matt Hatfield with OpenMedia, a Vancouver-based non-profit that advocates for digital rights, mentioned consultants are nonetheless divided about what a stability between free expression and stopping unfettered use by dangerous actors on social media may appear like, though he feels social media firms at the least owe the general public transparency.

“I believe the largest single downside with on-line platforms is how a lot of it’s a black field,” Hatfield mentioned.

“[Houlihan]’s proper to be annoyed. We’re all annoyed that the first on-line areas that we use for speech immediately, we have now so little management or accountability over and I believe in the long run, that should change.”

— to www.cbc.ca

The post After Facebook account hack and weeks-long ban, B.C. woman calls for social media transparency, accountability appeared first on Correct Success.


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