Update:We’re back! We were finally able to get hold of someone at Facebook and get our Facebook page back. Many thanks to everyone who tried to help and offered support. We contacted someone at Facebook through a reader in Chicago, who happens to work for a big newspaper. He had a contact in Facebook’s media team and called her up. Within minutes I received an email asking for details, and two minutes after that it was fixed. In fact, it was shocking how quickly the situation was reversed, given that we’d been wrestling with it for almost 24 hours — many thanks to the Facebook insider who fixed the problem for us. However, my thesis still holds — Facebook is a locked vault. If you don’t know someone who knows someone who works there, you’re SOL. Oh, and no word on what happened. I asked them, but no reply as yet.
Much to our horror, Cult of Mac’s Facebook page got hacked Monday and turned into a spam site. The hackers have locked us out and we’re finding it impossible to regain control.
We’re trying desperately to contact Facebook, but the company offers no customer support whatsoever. There are no online submission forms, no support email addresses, and the phone automatically hangs up on you if you call. It’s impossible to raise a human being over there.
It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. But during this ongoing nightmare, I’ve discovered something important about Facebook and the kind of tech companies it represents.
In the last 18 hours or so, I’ve discovered that Facebook is an impenetrable castle. The company built a trendy new open-plan office in Menlo Park, California, but it’s constructed a giant moat cutting off any contact — and I mean any contact at all — from its users and customers.
I spent hours Monday night trying to figure out how to regain control of Cult of Mac’s Facebook page, but Facebook just sent me in nightmarish loops.
If you have a problem, Facebook directs you to its Help pages, which are comically Kafkaesque. The pages ask you a series of questions that lead nowhere. The only concrete help is getting you to change your password, but after you do that, you get looped around to the beginning again.
The problem of being locked out of a page isn’t addressed. And once I discovered that, I could go no further. I tried calling the company switchboard, but it directed me back to the online Help pages and then hung up on me!
My fury was burning like a thousand young stars, but I was utterly powerless to do anything.
I sent emails to the catchall email for the company’s PR department. Then I started looking up individual staffers to contact. I’ve had some interaction with Facebook’s media relations department in the past, so I sent a half-dozen messages. One person replied and said they’d pass my message to the right folks. I should expect to hear back in “the next day or so,” she said.
Let’s hope. But in the meantime, a lot of damage is being done.
Since the page was taken over sometime Monday afternoon, it’s been posting dozens of spammy and offensive stories that lead to a couple of different sites. (They seem to be owned by an Australian company called WLK Holdings Pty Ltd.)
Our page has about 160,000 followers and is an important outlet for us. It drives significant traffic to the Cult of Mac website, and is an effective way to reach and interact with readers.
All of the legit editors of the page have been removed. No one is able to log in to the page.
We have no idea how our page was hacked and taken over. It might have been through Facebook, or perhaps a plugin used to post stories to the network. I recently changed my Facebook password (using 1Password; it’s 21 characters long) and turned on two-factor authentication.
Our deals partner, StackSocial, was also hacked. The breaches are obviously related, but we don’t know how.
There is one Facebook page where you can submit feedback, but it explicitly says you’re wasting your time: “Thanks for taking the time to give us feedback,” the page says. “We don’t typically respond to feedback emails, but we’re reviewing them.”
Thanks for nothing, Mark Zuckerberg!
Thanks for nothing, Mark Zuckerberg! The arrogance and elitism is breathtaking.
This is all important because of Facebook’s incredible reach and power. Like AOL back in the day, Facebook has become the de facto internet for many. My kids, for example, are barely aware there’s a wider internet outside Facebook. Everything they do and all the media they consume comes through the social network.
And yet Facebook is unanswerable to anyone. Facebook does what it likes, and customers and users have no redress.
Facebook and the new facelessness
Facebook is emblematic of a lot of new tech companies that seem to be in contempt of their users. Back in the day, I thought Google was bad, but the new generation of tech companies is much worse. They’ve erected giant, impenetrable walls between themselves and the customers whose data nourishes their networks.
A lot of people say Apple is arrogant. But if you have a problem with an Apple product, you can get a human on the phone in minutes — or head to the nearest Genius Bar for some face-to-face aid.
Facebook’s tech support, on the other hand, might as well be run by HAL-9000. The generic help pages offer no real support for people who’s businesses or identities have been hijacked.
For a social network that built its financial empire on easy and instantaneous communication, Facebook’s approach to customer service is completely unacceptable.
Where’s the “do not like” button?