It was 2:30am and I was happily sleeping after my second 12+ hour day at a conference in Atlanta.
And then came the dings. Ding. Ding. Ding. Each one meant a new text message. I grabbed my phone and there they were, 3 messages:
- You just paid Facebook $500.
- You just paid Facebook $500.
- You just paid Facebook $600.
First thought: “WHAT?!?!?!” immediately followed by jumping out of bed and booting up the MacBook.
And when I tried to log into Facebook, a new message: “Your account has been deactivated for violation of Facebook’s terms and policies.”
- Personal Facebook gone.
- Business Facebook gone.
- Account manager for 14 client accounts gone.
It seems someone hacked into my account, racked up $1600 in advertising which violated Facebook’s terms, they took the $1600 and then immediately deactivated my account.
The bank refuses to reverse the charges until Facebook tells them it was fraudulent. Facebook has been non-responsive, allowing me only to give them my name and a copy of my driver’s license.
For each of the last few years, I can track 5 figures in revenue to Facebook and POOF! my account was gone.
While the investigation is ongoing, I wanted to share a few immediate learnings that may save you some of the hassle we’re experiencing.
- Always have more than one admin for your business pages. If my business page had had another admin, we wouldn’t have lost it. My new page is set up and we have a backup admin. Would you please connect with it here to help show Facebook I’m not a horrible person who posts inappropriate ads as the investigation continues? With luck, they’ll restore my old account.
- If doing paid advertising on any platform, use a prepaid card that you fund based on your planned ad spend so if you are hacked, they can’t take more than you had planned.
- Facebook owns Instagram. Lose one, lose both if you have them connected. Another set of followers gone.
- When we take “Facebook scrolling” out of the equation and it’s amazing how much more productive we can be. While I usually consider myself to be a reasonably productive person, I was amazed at how much more I got done without Facebook in the mix. And while I’m back on, it’s with better boundaries.
- Be aware how much you use online “real estate” that you don’t own. If you lose an account, like Facebook, and you’re running Groups, you can lose your entire community in the blink of an eye — as opposed to ensuring those connections exist on your email list or in a membership software.
While social media, whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever’s next, is important in marketing and connection, it’s not the only way to attract clients and keep in touch. Our challenge, our opportunity, is to maximize these tools (and that’s all they are) without ignoring all the other tools out there.
And, as of today…
My personal account remains closed and all attempts at getting another have been shut down. Once you’re on the “ticked off FB” list (even when a hacker does it), it’s seemingly impossible to get off.
That said, they did allow me to finally set up a new Instagram account which you can follow here for fun motivational, Riverwalk, sunrise/sunset and kickboxing pics and I’d love to connect with you on my Facebook Business Page here — we have some great new challenges and surprise gifts for connections coming up later this month.
*Photo courtesy of Facebook.