Meta reportedly fired more than a dozen security guards and other workers in the last year after internal investigations revealed they had been selling users’ information and login details to hackers. Some of those who received disciplinary actions were contractors who acquired information from users that were locked out or had trouble with their accounts.
The company utilizes a mechanism called “Oops” (Online Operations) to help users access or reset their accounts for Instagram or Facebook. The Wall Street Journal first reported that an internal probe found that some security guards were illegally accessing the accounts and providing the information to hackers for alleged bribes.
Oops is generally used as a last resort if users can’t reach someone from Meta by email or phone and are supposed to be used for employees, their family, and friends. But as the number of employees rose, so did the number of requests that were filed. According to the WSJ, in 2017, Oops responded to about 22,000 recorded tasks which increased to 50,270 only three years later.
When filing an Oops report, users have to state whether they are on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s team, a celebrity, or a Meta partner or family member. Their request is then forwarded to the Meta community support team, many of which were companies or businesses that could prove lucrative to hackers stealing their information.
The internal probe revealed security guards had been able to access Oops on Facebook’s intranet, and one security contractor was reportedly fired for assisting third parties in taking over accounts in 2021. The report shows another security contractor was fired when the probe found they allegedly reset several accounts for hackers in exchange for Bitcoin.
Meta did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Meta’s security contractor, Allied Universal, provided the security guards and a spokesperson told WSJ that the company “takes seriously all reports of violations of our standards of conduct.”
The reports come as Meta laid off 11,000 workers earlier this month and plans to lay off 871 more workers across three New York offices on February 23, 2022, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed with the state.
As employee levels drop, Meta has also continued to struggle with complicated customer service methods that are failing to meet the needs of its nearly 3 billion users across its social media channels, the WSJ reported. But Meta has said they are committed to building out its customer service in the coming years.
However, one user told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that he contacted Meta for help when his account was hacked, but he didn’t receive proper help saying, “I have never been able to speak to a human.”
A Meta spokesperson told the WSJ, “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.” They added that the company “will keep taking appropriate action against those involved in these kinds of schemes.”