April 13, 2024
  • 41 State Attorney Generals have penned a letter to Meta about the growing number of account takeover cases asking it to resolve the issue.
  • The number of complaints has increased by 1,000% since 2019 in New York.
  • For states like Vermont, North Carolina, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, the number has increased by 250% in the last year alone.

41 State Attorney Generals Urge Meta To Be More Proactive In Dealing With Account Hijackings

Meta has been contacted by 41 State Attorney Generals through a letter about the increasing instances of account hijackings on Facebook and Instagram. The letter calls for immediate action against the perpetrators.

The letter and the group of attorneys were led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. She said that these attacks are not only inconvenient for the people but are also a massive drain on government resources because the accounts that are hijacked are later used to commit financial crimes.

We have received a number of complaints of threat actors fraudulently charging thousands of dollars to stored credit cards. Furthermore, we have received reports of threat actors buying advertisements to run on Meta.The letter of complaint

So, in a way, these attacks on user accounts are indirectly benefiting Meta while heavily punishing the original account holders – because these ads often violate Meta’s policy which ends with the account getting banned and the original user permanently losing access to it. Just think about this happening to small businesses and content creators—they end up losing their livelihood.

The worst part is the sheer rise in such instances:

  • The number of complaints in New York alone has increased by 1,000% since 2019.
  • Vermont, Illinois, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania each experienced a 250% hike in 2023.

The mechanism behind these attacks is unknown at the time of writing. However, what’s certain is that the hackers are breaking into user accounts, changing their passwords to lock them out, and then deceiving their contacts by impersonating them.

Account hijacking is a way to steal one’s identity and then use it to commit crimes and frame the original user.

Through these letters, the aforementioned states are urging Meta to be more proactive and take actions to not only nab the miscreants but also minimize account hijacking altogether.

The attorneys also complained about receiving truckloads of complaints directly from the users—a sign that Meta isn’t helping them enough. The letter also remarks that the states shouldn’t have to act as the company’s customer service department.

Read more: Meta accused of running a massive data processing business, violating the GDPR

How Meta chooses to handle this problem is debatable. However, the states have suggested investing more in monitoring and technology so that hijacked accounts can be easily identified and restored.

They also recommended that Meta should reconsider its staffing situation because the cases have been drastically increasing over the last couple of years, coinciding with the massive layoffs by Meta after the pandemic.

Plus, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Meta plans to lay off more employees in 2024. So, it’s easy to see why the attorney generals feel that Meta needs more staff—so that it can have more eyes on the field.

Meta has responded to this letter by saying that:

  • Facebook and Instagram aren’t the only platforms where this is happening, and
  • they are already investing in technologies and review teams to minimize the issue.

In fact, Meta regularly shares tips with their users on how to better protect their accounts and have previously cooperated with the authorities to take legal action when needed. Additionally, I’d like to point you towards the best password manager and the best VPN that will together amp up your privacy and security on the internet.

It’s worth noting that a total of 10 US states aren’t a part of the aforementioned request to Meta, including:

  • Texas
  • North Dakota
  • Montana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Maine
  • Kansas
  • Indiana
  • Idaho
  • Arkansas

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