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Meta fired more than 20 employees

People familiar with the matter said, Facebook's parent company Meta has fired or punished more than 20 employees and contractors in the past year, accusing them of improperly resetting user accounts through internal systems. , and some of them were suspected of accepting bribes.

According to internal company documents and people familiar with the matter, after users' Facebook accounts are locked, they often cannot log in directly to Facebook in traditional ways. As a result, some users have turned to employees or contractors working at Meta through an intermediary to help them unlock or reset their accounts using internal employee mechanisms. In some cases, Meta employees also received thousands of dollars in bribes, internal documents show. This internal mechanism, known at Facebook as Online Operations (Oops), has existed since Facebook's early days, allowing employees to help users regain access to their accounts.

Meta spokesman Andy Stone said, people who sell fraudulent services are constantly targeting online platforms like ours and adapting their tactics to detection methods commonly used across the industry. Meta will continue to take appropriate action against such individuals.

A spokesman for Meta security contractor Allied Universal also said the company takes all reports of violations of our standards of conduct seriously.

Meta's social platform has more than 3 billion users, it provides almost no customer service. The company has said it is committed to enhancing customer service in the coming years. When user accounts are locked, they often try to automatically reset the account or contact Meta staff by phone or email, but many users report that it is usually in vain. Some of these individuals were able to reach out to Meta employees or contractors to fill out applications through Oops channels to restore access to their accounts.

Oops is supposed to be fairly limited to special cases like unlocking accounts of friends, family, business partners, and public figures, but usage has climbed in recent years as Meta's workforce has grown. An internal document shows that Oops channels support about 50,270 tasks in 2020, up from 22,000 tasks three years ago. If filing an Oops report, the dealing Meta employee needs to list an email address associated with a reset Facebook or Instagram account.

They also had to answer a series of questions, such as identifying the identity of the user who was trying to reset the account, internal documents show. This application is then sent to Meta's community support team. Because so many people rely on social media for business, or to manage the content of their lives, illegally controlling user accounts can be lucrative. Some Facebook and Instagram accounts can even be sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

Because the vast majority of users do not have access to the Oops system, an industry of intermediaries has developed to help users regain control of their accounts for a fee, said people familiar with the matter. Some of these brokers claim they have access to Meta internal staff to help reset accounts.

Nick McCandless said, when you shut down someone's Instagram account that they've spent years building, you take away all their source of income. He would charge clients a fee to reset their accounts, sometimes through Meta's contractors. You have to find someone internally who will actually do it.

Brooke Millard, a model living in Oran, has around 650,000 followers on her Instagram account. In December 2021, she lost access to her account and later paid McCandless about $7,000 to restore it.

She said, I know clearly, he didn't do it. Obviously there are other people behind him.

Stone, a Meta spokesman, said buying, selling, or paying to restore accounts is a violation of the social network's terms of service. Meta is also investigating whether some former employees conspired with company employees to hijack user accounts. In July, a Meta lawyer sent a letter to Kendel Melbourne, a former security contractor sacked in 2021, alleging he assisted a third party in fraudulently taking control of an Instagram account. Meta asked Melbourne to provide a list of user accounts he was trying to reset, as well as the money he made by providing account reset services.

Meta accused Melbourne of breaching the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and banned him from Facebook and Instagram. Melbourne, which is owned by United Universal, used to have login credentials for Facebook's intranet, including the ability to request user account resets through the company's internal Oops system, according to internal documents and people familiar with the matter. In interviews, Melbourne described Oops as a perk of the outsourced work.

Melbourne said, they don't have any rules, they don't give you any lessons.

Melbourne has denied fraud, saying he reset about 20 accounts on behalf of friends, family, and people he trusted. Another Meta contractor at United Universal, Reva Mandelowitz, was fired in February after an internal investigation found she allegedly reset multiple user accounts and obtained thousands of dollars worth of money through intermediaries. Mandrowitz also denied wrongdoing in an interview, saying she simply reset about 20 accounts at the behest of friends and family. Recently, United Universal began cracking down on employee use of Meta's internal systems. "Do not use the Meta OOPS platform," warns an internal company message.

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