A screenshot of a locked profile on Facebooktl;dr What seems like a never-ending vortex of Hell following a Facebook hack makes me wonder if “social media” is really worth it.

The background

For the last month-plus (starting on Saturday, August 12), I’ve been experiencing what a hell-vortex Meta “Support” is.

You see, I woke up that morning to see messages from Meta asking if I’d added an email address, removed my phone number, reset my password, removed my email address… all from a computer purportedly in Hong Kong, 5-ish hours earlier.

I promptly clicked the “this wasn’t me” link, but by then, of course, the links had expired. The hacker(s?) infiltrated both my Shonali Burke Consulting business page (I’d left that up after joining Arena Stage) and, even worse, the Arena Stage page.

They created new profiles using my name, and started running spam ads on the Arena page using the associate credit cards.

As much in terror as I was – and I was – I had the wherewithal to get the Arena comms/social media team together via text/phone.

Heavens bless them, they jumped into action before 8 am ET that morning, and we spent the next several hours on group text/phone calls trying to retrieve the page, cancel credit cards, etc.

We were able to do the latter, but as of this writing, neither of the business pages have been retrieved (we’re still trying).

Sending out flares

As for my personal profile, I sent out flares to several trusted friends and colleagues via text and email, asking them to post on my profile that I’d been hacked, and not to accept friend or message requests, change their passwords, etc.

They were amazing, and I 💓 them all.

Miraculous good fortune

In what has to be miraculous good fortune, I was able to reach two colleagues currently at Meta, both of whom filed internal tickets to help me retrieve my profile.

I was back on Facebook in 48 hours, which itself is unbelievable, given what I heard from sooo many friends who’d been through similar experiences.

But wait, there’s more

You’d think the saga would stop there, but… no:

  • Just a couple of days later, Meta “locked” my profile, as they suspected “unauthorized activity,” which was basically me wishing a bunch of folk happy birthday
  • I had to go through the ID verification process, which consisted of my setting up yet another new email address for them to send me instructions (I had to set one up the first time around as well), and then sending in a selfie with a handwritten code from said email
  • I have still not been able to regain access to the Shonali Burke Consulting business page
  • We still don’t have access to the Arena Stage business page, which means our ability to run ads for our shows is nonexistent
  • I’ve spent the better part of the last month filing an ID theft report with the FTC, changing passwords, freezing my credit, pretty much any/everything to keep myself safe
  • Three days ago, on Sept. 14, I was locked out AGAIN from my personal FB profile, due to “suspected unauthorized activity,” which again I think was my posting a bunch of HBDs
  • Facebook’s algorithm is apparently unable to read TSA-ready driver licenses, nor is it able to accurately review a selfie (I’ve done this twice now, and each time I’ve received a “swipe left” email, the second one actually misspelling my name)
  • I reached out again to one of my Meta contacts, who has been kind enough to file a ticket internally, but… nothing (Customer Service said they were sending me a password reset link, which I never received, so who only knows what email address they sent it to).

So, I’m basically a Facebook pariah. I’m unable to connect with my friends and family on the platform and, while I’m far less active than I used to be, it hurts that this is not my choice.

Rather, I’m the victim of illegal activity despite already having security measures such as two-factor authentication in place (which, as far as I can tell, makes no darn difference on Facebook, because not ONCE in all of this was I asked to plug in the 2Fa code to proceed).

And I’m not special; I’m one of millions.

Not a hater

If you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know what an avid proponent of social media I’ve been.

If you’ve stumbled on this blog by accident (it happens), the 4-1-1 is that I was an early adopter of social media, sang its praises as a way to grow your networks and build your business/profile, and developed a practical framework to leverage social media for public relations that I called social PR (now everyone does).

So I’m not exactly a social media detractor.

But when a social network absolves itself of any responsibility to its users who helped it become what it is…

… is it really worth staying on?

I will likely keep trying to get my profile back, at least for a few days/weeks. Perhaps I’m cussid, but I’m damned if some hackers are going to devolve my digital life.

But at some point, I might just call it.

I’m confident enough in my family and friend connections to know that we’ll stay in touch via email, text, phone, and other social networks.

And the amount of time I’ve gained back, in just three days, for “real” life activities is pretty remarkable.

At the end of the day, I choose to live my real life. Not a digital facsimile thereof.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

And, oh: pretty cool that the FB hack led me to blogging again, after 2+ years, right?

What do you think? Is “social media” really worth it? Let me know!