California Attorney General Urges Meta Do More to Prevent Account Takeovers

California Attorney General Urges Meta Do More to Prevent Account Takeovers

In this photo illustration, the Facebook and Instagram apps are seen on the screen of an iPhone in San Anselmo, Calif., on Oct. 4, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Marc Olson

Marc Olson

3/7/2024

Updated: 3/7/2024

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Forty attorneys general around the nation, including California’s Rob Bonta, sent a letter March 5 to Facebook parent company Meta urging “immediate action” to help users prevent account takeovers.
“We refuse to operate as the customer service representatives of your company,” states the letter, which goes on to say it’s “mandatory” that Meta increase its investment in takeover response.
“Having an account taken over by a bad actor can be a traumatizing, expensive, and time-consuming event,” said Mr. Bonta in a news release.
The letter cites “a dramatic and persistent spike in complaints in recent years ... that is not only alarming for our constituents but also a substantial drain on our office resources.”
Online criminals can take over a Facebook or Instagram account by obtaining the user’s login information through user carelessness or malicious software, according to Chron, a business news site. User carelessness could include a user sharing his password or leaving himself logged in on a public-access computer. An example of malware is keylogging software that records everything a user types, which a user can be induced to download via deceptive email.
Once an account is taken over, hackers will change the login information to keep the user out, according to Mr. Bonta’s news release. Then the hackers can “usurp personal information, read private messages, scam contacts, post publicly, and take other nefarious actions,” the release said. Any financial data or credit card information tied to the account could also be swiped.
Those who use Facebook Marketplace for their businesses are especially at risk, according to the letter.
The letter urges Meta, which is based in Menlo Park, California to boost its investment to prevent such takeovers. It cites a 2022 layoff of 11,000 employees “whose work reportedly focused on” security, and claims the increase in takeovers increased around that time.
The attorneys general also requested a meeting with Meta to discuss the issue “more deeply.”
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Marc Olson

Marc Olson

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Marc J. Olson is a longtime Southern California journalist who has worked at the San Diego Tribune, Orange County Register, and Los Angeles Times. He is originally from Minneapolis.

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