The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said more than two dozen employees and contractors were terminated over the infraction. Some of the terminated contractors worked as security guards stationed at Meta facilities. According to documents obtained by the WSJ and people familiar with the matter, the security officers were given access to the tech company's internal mechanism for assisting users having trouble with their accounts.
Meta alleged that in some cases, workers accepted thousands of dollars in bribes in return for having access to user accounts via the Oops system – shorthand for Online Operations. In existence since Facebook's early years, Oops is used by employees to assist users they know who have either forgotten their login credentials or fallen victim to hackers. While initially limited to "special cases" and as a measure of last resort, its use has increased over the years.
According to the WSJ, the disciplinary actions are part of a lengthy internal probe led by executives of Mark Zuckerberg's company.
Meta spokesman Andy Stone reiterated that buying or selling accounts, or paying for an account recovery service, violates the social network's terms of service.
"Individuals selling fraudulent services are always targeting online platforms, including ours, and adapting their tactics in response to the detection methods that are commonly used across the industry," he said. Stone continued that Meta "will keep taking appropriate action against those involved in these kinds of schemes." (Related: Facebook apps vacuumed up all your calls and emails from your mobile phone… FOR YEARS… why no prison for Zuckerberg?)
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Allied Universal – Meta's security contractor – said the company takes seriously all reports of violations of its standards of conduct. Several security officers fired over the allegations were employed by Allied Universal.
The WSJ report also mentioned that Meta is investigating several former employees linked to Allied Universal.
Back in July, an attorney representing Meta sent a letter to former security contractor Kendel Melbourne. The letter alleged that Melbourne was assisting "third parties to fraudulently take control over Instagram accounts" including after he was fired in 2021. The company demanded that he provide a detailed list of user accounts he had attempted to reset and the money he made doing so.
Aside from these, the letter also informed Melbourne that he could face charges stemming from violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, and that he has been banned from Facebook and Instagram.
In an interview, Melbourne described access to Oops as a perk of the job. "They didn't have any set of rules or give you a class on what to expect," he said.
Melbourne later responded to the letter through an email and denied committing fraud. He explained that he reset about 20 accounts on behalf of friends, family and people he trusted.
"Unfortunately, I have [fallen] victim to thinking I was helping people retrieve their accounts. I will take responsibility for that."
Reva Mandelowitz, another contractor, was fired in February 2022 after an internal investigation found her allegedly resetting multiple user accounts on behalf of hackers. She received thousands of dollars in crypto as payment for her services.
Mandelowitz denied any wrongdoing in an interview and insisted that she only requested about 20 account resets for friends and family. An unknown person reached out to her online in January and asked her to do more account resets, which she declined to do. The former security officer for Meta then recounted that a campaign of harassment began when she refused to cooperate.
Glitch.news has more stories about account hacking on Facebook and Instagram.
Watch this Euronews report about Meta being added to Russia's official list of terrorist organizations.
This video is from The Prisoner channel on Brighteon.com.