Recovering from Being Hacked Off of Facebook – Now Back On


UPDATE 03.01.11

Thanks so much to Facebook for restoring my account! After two weeks and three attempts, I’m back in. Two days ago I submitted my third or fourth request and today I got an email from Rick in User Operations letting me know my account was restored. Yay! Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and if you’ve been hacked off, read this post. See you on Facebook.

One thing Mark Zuckerberg and I have in common: we’ve both had Facebook pages hacked. His is back up and running. Mine is still disabled.

It’s been five days since I got this message. “Your account has been temporarily suspended for security purposes. Our systems indicate that your Facebook account has been compromised by cybercriminals attempting to impersonate you. “

If you’re here because this also happened to you, first of all my sincere sympathies and feel free to share your experience or any helpful ideas on how to restore or rebuild accounts in the comments section. For everyone, please read this post and take precautions to protect you and your Facebook account today, or ideally, right now.

What you need to change right now: your email and Facebook passwords, especially if they’re easy to crack, they’re both the same and your email is tied to a free account provider like Yahoo! or hotmail.

Wondering if your password will be easy to guess? Take a look at the works in the graphic image that accompanies this post. [Thanks to Shutterstock.com for the popular password image.] Need directions? Here’s a helpful article on how to pick a safe password.

If you’re in this situation, the hacker may have an email and password combination that might unlock other accounts, too.

How I Found Out My Facebook Account Was Hacked

On Wednesday I opened my laptop to find another email address in place of mine on the log in screen. Checking two other computers, and my iPhone, I saw the same alien email address.

When other people checked my account, there were no recent updates at all. In fact, my wall was scrubbed clean. It felt so weird to see absolutely nothing. . .

Thanks to friends who alerted me via direct messages on twitter, email and this blog’s contact form that someone was posing as me. How did they know?

I’m never on Facebook chat and this person, the fake Barbara, was asking for money. When I entered my email address, Facebook didn’t recognize it.

I found out that a 419 scam disabled my Facebook account. Think you might have this issue? Thanks to Publicity Hound Joan Stewart for the link to forms to use and things to do if your Facebook fan page disappears.

The hacker took me off of my profile and now had access to my profile and all those I manage.

I immediately notified every client and group admin and asked them to delete me from their profile. By the time my clients got the message, Facebook had already disabled the account.

I was officially off of Facebook within an hour or so of first finding out my account had been hacked.

Poof! From Visible to Non-Existence in an Instant

Not to get too emotional about this and go into victim mode, but if you’ve also been hacked, here’s a list of what you might have lost. Think of this as the same kind of exercise you go through when you’re cataloging valuables for insurance purposes.

What you might lose if your Facebook account vanishes. . .

– ALL Content for personal and business pages, including updates, photos and videos not to mention your info page

– Friend connections [I had 887] and fans on all accounts

– Phone numbers, lots of phone numbers

– Numerous fan page connections with updates to communities and companies

– Group memberships

– Private family pages

– Admin role on client’s pages and SMC Chicago

– Tags in photos

– News feed from friends

– Access to the “walled garden” that is Facebook

– URL, in this case – http://facebook.com/rozgonyi

– Everything going back to the beginning [my Facebook start date: July 2007]

– Convenient access to sites that let you log in via Facebook

– All connections to your account from third-party applications

– A Face on Facebook

Yep, it was a bit painful thinking about all of that. What did I miss?

Living Life without Facebook

Granted it’s only Facebook and it’s only been five days. Life goes on and my account may be reinstated.

Is is possible to overreact to what may be a minor and temporary interruption of a Facebook account?

What I haven’t expected is the loss my friends and even my family feel. People who have my email address, phone numbers and address [i.e. , these people know how to reach me 24/7 on or offline, or doorbell] are frustrated because they can’t send me messages on Facebook.

Thanks to friends like Tim McDonald who called with some security tips and then said it’s weird not to see you on Facebook. I do feel locked out and left out.

When my daughter said, “Mom, I can’t find you on Facebook anymore,” with genuine dismay, I looked at her and said, “You’re looking right at me. You don’t need to find me on Facebook. “

“But I want to find you on Facebook,” she said. One of my last messages, sent to her, was a link to a post she needed for a school assignment. Yes, we have email and we also text and DM each other. So why do we need another channel?

Is it worthy crying over losing Facebook access? It depends on what the platform means to you and whether or not you’ve backed up your activity. I have to admit this is more emotional and frustrating than I expected it to be. . . especially because I didn’t plan ahead. So that this doesn’t happen to you, here’s a selection of ways to save your profile.

Ways to Back Up Facebook and Save Your Assets

1. Grab the RSS feed for your account, then send it to your reader or your email via feedmyinbox Tip: send feeds to a dedicated email just for that purpose to keep your primary inbox clear.

2. Add on to Firefox. ArchiveFacebook is a free tool that allows you to save content from your Facebook account directly to your hard drive. Archive your photos, messages, activity stream, friends list, notes, events and groups. That’s the official description. Note that I got a few warning messages when I tried to install it.

3. Backupify your social media. Ever the optimist, I hoped maybe I had somehow, some way already saved my account with a backup service. Turns out I did set up a Backupify account, which spit back 1616 pages of twitter data, but had nothing on Facebook. Why? Because I didn’t sign up for it.

Backupify is the leading backup provider for cloud based data, offering an all-in-one archiving, search and restore service for the most popular online services including Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter and more. With one account you get centralized access to all of your information, stored securely, easily searchable, and ready for restoration or transfer at a moment’s notice. Another official description straight off the site, this tool is one I do use and recommend. You’ll want to compare the free and paid versions to see which is best for you and your business.

4. SocialSafe is a digital diary that backs up your profiles and downloads them to you computer.

What other ways can you think of to save and secure social media content?

Will Your Facebook Account Be Restored?

After spending a few hours searching for answers, I was disappointed to find very few instances of restoration. One commenter asked: why you would want to restore a hacked account? Most people I’ve talked to anecdotally say a friend’s account was restored a day or two. But, if your account is restored how likely are you to post that update? [Rest assured, I will.]

How Long Before You Create a New Facebook Account?

If you manage accounts for clients, you’ll need to set up an account so you can check on theirs. Also, the longer you stay away, the more you miss out on what’s going on. The “out of sight, out of mind factor” is huge on social networks. Do you agree?

Reconstructing Your Facebook Profile

If you decided the wait is over and it’s time to get started with a new profile, here are a few thoughts on how to reconstruct your account.

Post a WTF update – thanks to Ramon DeLeon for this one. “WTF” means “welcome to Facebook.”

Use the Friend Finder to locate people you want to connect with.

Set up lists to categorize friends. If you didn’t create Facebook friend lists the first time around, now’s your chance to be more organized.

Ask a few friends to post a status saying that you’re back and your friends can friend you at the new profile.

Remember those pictures of you you actually liked being in tagged in? Go back and retag yourself.

Now that you have a fresh profile, you’ll need to go back and change the link everywhere, including on your LinkedIn profile, blog, site and FriendFeed.

And, you’ll want to make sure your account is as private and secure as possible. Here’s a list to get you started . . .

Facebook Privacy and Security Resources

Did you know that if you use your computer in a place with free wi-fi you’re safer surfing with an https connection that makes your connection secure by blocking out outside access?

You can set the Facebook and HTTPS Protocol [via mashable.com] to do that and to alert you when anyone tries to log into your account from another computer or device.

Or, you can secure your browser with the Firefox HTTPS Everywhere Extension or the Google Chrome HTTPS Extension.

Other Facebook security and privacy information you may find helpful . . . .

Facebook implements an account protections security status bar

How to protect your profile security on Facebook

How to Protect Your Facebook Account From Hackers and Phishing Scams

10 privacy settings every Facebook user should know

Prepare Your Company Now for Social Attacks by Jeremiah Owyang

What other help would you offer people who want to secure their social media accounts?


About Barbara Rozgonyi

Barbara Rozgonyi publishes WiredPRWorks.com and directs CoryWest Media, an integrated social media marketing and PR firm. As Social Media Club (SMC) Chicago’s founder, Barbara is a recognized spokesperson for brands, bloggers and the social media marketing PR industry. Barbara invites you to join the Wired PR Works community on Facebook or to contact her regarding interviews, partner promotions or speaking engagements at 630.207.7530.


53 thoughts on “Recovering from Being Hacked Off of Facebook – Now Back On

  • Kris

    Hi Barb,

    I was on FB today for the first time in a while. I decided to go “spy” on you, as I often do to see what you’re up to. That’s when I saw that your FB page was down. I knew you must of had a good reason for this. I talked to my dad and he told me that your FB account got hacked into and that you lost everything. I am soooo sorry to hear this!

    Anyway, I haven’t been spending much time on FB lately. I kind of grew tired of it, so I’ve taken a little break. But my profile is still up.

    I have some good news!! I’ll be coming to visit in May. I’m still sticking with my original plan to do separate visits with you, Lori and my dad. I just talked to my dad and he told me that he could probably lend me a car, so that I could drive up to Chicago from Indy – and stay a couple of days with you. I’ll try to let you know the May time frame as soon as I find out.

    Again, I’m sorry about your FB drama. That really sucks!

    Love You, Kris

  • Caterina

    Hi Barbara,

    My facebook account also got hacked on the 9th of february. I got an email from facebook that allowed me to disable my account while they “try” to fix it. I still havent got a reply from facebook after sending many messages.
    I wanted to make a new account but didn’t facebook disable your previous account because technically we cant have two accounts on facebook?
    Im hoping my new account wont be disabled for that reason

    • Barbara Rozgonyi Post author

      Good point, Caterina. I’m still not back on and am thinking that if it’s taken this long for you, chances are good that the account is not coming back – at least any time soon.

      Technically, you can’t have two accounts on Facebook, but “technically” disabled accounts aren’t accounts right?

      Would it be worth asking Facebook to delete the original account? I would like to have my URL back though: http://facebook.com/rozgonyi

      Keep us posted on what you decide to to and thanks for writing!

    • Barbara Rozgonyi Post author

      Hi Caterina:
      Give it one or two more tries. My account was restored today. I had to select a new password and that was that. Kind of weird to see the messages my friends sent the hacker, but good to know they were fighting for me. Good luck!
      Barbara

  • ROSS MACDONALD

    There is no doubt that SSO / Open ID and simple user name and password – identification mechanisms are just not good enough. We have created an authentication layer that sits on top of these and provides the kind of security that I would look for as a FB user. Check out the website – it is a SAAS solution available as a mash up. (http://www.liveensure.com)

    • Barbara Rozgonyi Post author

      Hi Jen – no, we didn’t live broadcast this one. Looking into future possibilities. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Devan Martinez

    Hello,

    My account was hacked and like you I lost several vital contacts. I lost access to my fan pages and to all of my groups both private and public. I lost my contacts and all of my pictures. I have contacted Facebook several times and have yet to get any type of response excluding the generic response emails from the “facebook team”. My facebook is the life line to my business and because it was temporarily suspended cause some low life hacked my account, now I can’t run my business properly and we are slowly dieing off. Clients stopped contacting us because “there was no facebook page”, venues stopped booking us because “they couldn’t see our fan page likes”. Please help me, I am running out of options and feel that if you were able to recover your account maybe you could possibly help me save mine as well as my business.
    Thank you.

    • Barbara Rozgonyi Post author

      Hi Devan, have you recovered your page yet? It’s so frustrating to be hacked. One option is to start a new page and invite people to come back. I’d also run Facebook ads to let people know about your new page.

  • Lei

    Hey Barb,

    Its odd but comforting to know that I wasn’t alone by doing a little research today.

    At the time of my account being hacked, Spring 2010.. most users were not majorly hacked as I was with majority of user content being wiped out.

    Today, it seems like a regular thing.

    The backup options today are amazing but, at the time, the only service I found required a membership fee. And my young 20 year old self didnt think it was worth it.. mostly I figured I would back it up myself. However, everytime I looked at the content, 800 contacts, over 5000 images and more, thousands of messages and comments… it really dulled me.

    Little under 2 months after I was hacked, FB included its own backup option that I would have probably used if it had been around.

    Anyways, from the attack, my credit card was linked, FB immediately traced the IP connected and without a word to me, returned everything to my card. My bank didnt even have time to file a report, it was done within a few hours of the hack.

    However, everything else on my account wasnt as successful. I played email tag and I had access to my accounts, mainly by changing emails and pws several times… but whenever I asked about the large amount of content I lost.. I got no answers.

    It started to impact me and make me sad.. sadly. I went on a small 2 day trip to the headquarters, using every cent I had to get there and back.. and after walking around, almost lost and finally getting to the headquarters- I was handed a post-it to describe my issue. I noticed some men in suits snickering. I made my way home and never heard a thing. I sent 3 emails, the last- a little harsh, about what was going on with my content and still had no response or a “we’ll have to get back to you” kindof response.

    Most people I know would have started another account.. but because the bulk of my content was much larger than others, I was discouraged to start from nothing. I had been using FB almost longer than you (06). And most of my content was work related by the time of the attack in 2010. So it wasnt beyond just a personal loss for me.

    I did make a new private account but the account looked as blank as my hacked page and I became immediately overwhelmed.

    Sometimes I wonder if by a miracle, anything would be restored. The question I wanted to ask you is.. besides gaining access to your account… did you ever gain back any of your content? (photos, comments, messages, friends, etc.,) And what advice you might have..? Thanks.

    Lei.

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