Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has fired or disciplined dozens of employees and contractors — including Meta security guards — following an internal probe that revealed they were improperly accessing users’ accounts for reasons including bribery.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, for years, the employees and contractors wrongly used Facebook’s internal mechanism for helping password-forgetting users reclaim their accounts — called, appropriately, “Oops” — for profit, either by charging users to re-access their account or taking over the account and selling it back to its rightful owner.
“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,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone told WSJ, adding that the company “will keep taking appropriate action against those involved in these kinds of schemes.”
Oops, a clever acronym for Online Operations, was mainly in place as an in-case-of-emergency method for high-profile users to reclaim their account; since Meta employs an admittedly small customer service staff compared to its 3 billion users, only Facebook employees and contractors had access to the Oops mechanism.
However, the internal probe found that Meta’s security guards were able to access Oops via Facebook’s intranet, with one security contractor terminated in 2021 after it was discovered they assisted “third parties to fraudulently take control over Instagram accounts,” even after they were fired. The probe also revealed another security contractor was fired after it was found that they allegedly reset multiple user accounts on behalf of hackers in exchange for Bitcoin.
News of the latest firings comes just weeks after Meta announced plans to lay off 13 percent of its global workforce, totaling about 11,000 people. In an email to employees earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg said Meta would be “taking a number of additional steps to become a leaner and more efficient company by cutting discretionary spending and extending our hiring freeze” through early 2023.