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Meta Fires Security Guards for Hijacking User Accounts

Meta Platforms Inc.  has fired or disciplined more than two dozen employees and contractors over the last year whom it accused of improperly taking over user accounts, in some cases allegedly for bribes, according to people familiar with the matter and documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Some of those fired were contractors who worked as security guards stationed at Meta facilities and were given access to the Facebook parent’s internal mechanism for employees to help users having trouble with their accounts, according to the documents and people familiar with the matter.

As part of the alleged abuse of the system, Meta says that in some cases workers accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from outside hackers to access user accounts, the people and documents say.

A spokeswoman for Meta’s security contractor, Allied Universal, said it “takes seriously all reports of violations of our standards of conduct.”

When people are locked out of their accounts, they typically try automated methods for resetting them or try to reach someone at Meta by phone or email, which many users have reported is often fruitless. Some of those people are able to get Meta employees and contractors to fill out a form through the Oops (Online Operations) channel as a method of last resort.

But in part because the Oops system is off limits to the vast majority of Facebook users, a cottage industry of intermediaries has developed who charge users money to regain control of their accounts. In interviews with the Journal, some of those third parties claim to have access to Meta employees to help reset accounts.

“When you take someone’s Instagram account down that they’ve spent years building up, you’re taking away their whole means of generating an income,” says Nick McCandless, whose company McCandless Group operates a platform for content creators. Mr. McCandless says he charges his clients to reset accounts, sometimes through a contact he declined to name at Meta.

“You really have to have someone on the inside who will actually do it,” he said.

Lately, Allied has cracked down on its employees’ use of internal systems, warning in a recent internal message viewed by the Journal “DO NOT use the Meta OOPS platform.”

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