Calgary business owner calling on Facebook to revamp its customer service after her account was hacked

This story has been updated to reflect a comment from Meta provided Friday morning

By Krista Sylvester | April 7, 2022 |5:00 am

Acrobatic Arts owner Mandy Yip discovered her social media accounts were hacked and disabled late March, but it took over 100 hours over several weeks to get them back.

Photo: Submitted

When Mandy Yip realized her social media accounts had been hacked, she spent over 100 hours in search of help. 

The Acrobatic Arts owner’s hope was to speak with a person from Meta on the phone to help recover her business’s hacked social media accounts, but she had no success. 

Losing thousands of dollars while her business accounts sat in limbo, Yip didn’t receive any personal help until Calgary Citizen reached out to Meta — formerly known as Facebook — for comment. 

Then, within six days she had her accounts back, but she is still raising questions about the media giant’s customer service tactics in light of her frustrating situation. 

When Citizen contacted Meta, they did reach out to Yip to help her recover her accounts right away, though it ultimately took almost a week to fix both her frozen Facebook and Instagram business accounts. 

Back up — what happened? 

It all started in late March when Yip received a message from Meta telling her that her business accounts were disabled due to sharing a child pornographic post on Instagram, which she hadn’t done. 

That was when she realized she was hacked, ultimately receiving over $3,000 in fraudulent charges she didn’t make for ad purchases. 

“It was a nightmare,” Yip says, adding she was shocked when she first received the message. 

“I didn’t have access to anything on Facebook or Instagram. My account was blocked and I was given a button to disagree with the decision, which of course I did — but then nothing happened.”

Bracing for impact 

Her Instagram account has over 122,000 followers on it while her Facebook business account has about 75,000 followers. Yip says social media is a critical part of how the local dance studio does business globally and the effects of the frozen accounts were felt immediately. 

“That’s the main way that we communicate with our customers. They message us and we have an army of people that go in there and answer all those questions and deal with comments. That’s how we communicate with our people. And we couldn’t access any of that.”

Shortly after, she discovered her ad account was also disabled, and she couldn’t even access it to see what was happening with the fraudulent charges that started popping up.  

“That’s when I started getting receipts from PayPal, saying that my Facebook ad account had been charged. So there was about $3,000 worth of invoices that came through,” she says, adding she called her credit card company to halt any further charges. 

She spent over 100 hours trying to resolve the issue 

Yip started working day and night trying to get through to someone at Meta for help, putting in over 100 hours on the phone and at the computer trying to find a person to speak with to explain the issue. 

“Through this entire process, there is absolutely no way to talk to a human,” she says, adding everything is done through artificial intelligence. 

“They have all of these avenues for you to get your account back. But my situation didn’t fit into any of the boxes that have been created, so it put me into a loop where I wasn’t getting help. It kept going around and around and around.” 

The fallout 

Yip employs people whose sole job is to manage social media, relying on 40 hours a week of work. 

“For almost two weeks, they had no work to do at all, because we couldn’t access it. It’s like, how long can I keep these people employed when there is nothing to do? And our sales plummeted.” 

Though Meta didn’t respond to Calgary Citizen with a comment until Friday, reflected below, the company did help Yip recover her accounts in a total of about six days from start to finish after our initial contact. 

Raising awareness about a common issue 

While Yip is thrilled to have her accounts back, she says there has to be a better way, especially because during her research trying to get help, she realized how common her situation was for others. 

“I appreciate how fast Facebook shut down the account, but there was no recourse for me to get my accounts back and it was devastating to my business,” Yip explains. 

Yip spends around $25,000 a year on advertising through Facebook alone and says the company had no issue taking her money for ads. But when she needed help, they were “nowhere to be found” — including her sales rep who was usually readily available. 

In response to what she wants to see in the future; Yip says “better customer service.” 

“Especially for paying customers like myself…  it was a major problem. It was a very frustrating process. It’s very difficult to get through all the red tape and find a person who will listen to you,” she says. 

“Even in the end, nobody actually explained to me what happened, I just all of a sudden had my accounts back online.” 

If your accounts are hacked 

Meta provided this comment Friday morning, though it’s unclear if these steps include speaking with a human:

“The best course of action if someone suspects their accounts have been hacked is to visit facebook.com/hacked and follow the steps outlined there.”

They also encourage people to turn on two-factor authentication to prevent similar hacks from happening, and to visit their Help Center for tips and best practices to keep their accounts secure, which are highlighted below.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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