social media

Locked Out: How a Social Media Customer Service Gap Is Costing Users

Hacked and locked social media accounts have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Frustrated viewers reached out to NBC 6 Responds after being locked out of their social media accounts.

It’s a common issue, but for the people our team spoke with, it hasn’t been easy to fix.

Hacked and locked social media accounts have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission tracks complaints of social media identity theft. The FTC shows complaints in this category saw a 48.4% increase since 2019.  

“A practice that does not have a social media following is a dead practice,” Dr. Daniel Careaga said.

Dr. Careaga says he lost access to the Instagram account for his plastic surgery practice in February.

“I sent them proof that I am the owner of the business, a copy of my driver’s license, and they responded a week or two later,” Dr. Careaga said.

He says he followed the instructions provided by Instagram, which included taking a selfie with a pin number provided by the company. But months later, he says he still did not have access to his account.

We heard a similar story from Carmen Fraga with Coral Gables Magazine.

“We had 10.3k followers on Instagram, so we had a really large following,” Fraga said.

Fraga says the publication’s Instagram account was hacked. She says she reached out to Instagram several times for help.

“I started to send emails to the help accounts, thinking it was a shot in the dark, they weren’t going to answer me,” Fraga said.

Both Facebook and Instagram have an online help center if your account has been hacked or disabled, including email addresses to request a review of your account. But they don’t have a number you can call.

In a press release from late last year, the parent company for Facebook and Instagram said it started a small test to provide support through live chat but they told us that option is no longer available.

“It’s crazy that there is not someone you can call to plead your case,” Fraga said.

But people and companies are gladly filling this customer service void for a cost.

“This was a real human who replied to me and was able to get it with real skills,” Imara grant said.

Grant is a Miami Content Creator and when she lost access to her social media page she reached out to a private person for help.

“Hundreds of people, thousands of people contact me every day,” Juan Diego Pelaez said.

Frustrated viewers reached out to NBC 6 Responds after being locked out of their social media accounts. Here's how this common problem has turned into big business for some.

Juan Diego Pelaez lives in Colombia. His private website says he recovers “hacked Instagram accounts worldwide.”

It features dozens of testimonials from influencers like Imara. Pelaez says he doesn’t have any special powers but has connections at social media platforms.

“We try. In some cases, we get the accounts back and in some cases, we cannot get it back,” Pelaez said.

It’s a service he charges hundreds of dollars for but says he only gets paid after the account is recovered.

“To me, it was worth it to make that payment,” Grant said.

But trusting your private account information to a private person comes with its own risks.

It’s why some are opting to go with online customer support platforms like GetHuman.

“The sad thing is when you actually need to get help from these companies there is very little you can do to get an actual person, who people end up turning to resources like us,” said Adam Goldkamp, the Director of Operations with GetHuman.

He says the platform offers help forums and live chat options to help you tackle a social media shutdown.

“We’ve noticed over the years this is a really popular problem,” Goldkamp said.

But even a company like GetHuman cannot guarantee success.

“There needs to be an option to speak with a human being,” Dr. Careaga said.

After we reached out to Meta the Instagram page for Careaga Plastic Surgery was restored.

A Meta representative told us they are also looking into Coral Gable Magazine’s hacked account. She told us Meta doesn’t work with private people like Juan on these issues.

When it comes to log-in and support, Meta provided the following resources:

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