STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Michael Stevens, a 24-year-old Tottenville man, has learned the hard way how susceptible we can be to bad actors now that so much of our personal and professional lives have moved into the social media space.
In late June, Stevens found his Facebook account had been hacked — his profile and cover photos replaced with symbols of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Accounts that post terrorist propaganda can be quickly locked, which is what happened to Stevens. Some Facebook users would be inconvenienced by the hack, but the Tottenville man relies on his social media accounts for his job in marketing.
“I work with small business clients to help their marketing in terms of social media and things like that,” Stevens said. “Along with all the memories and photos I have, it was very disheartening to know that it could all be lost.”
Since discovering the hack, Stevens has had the situation fully resolved after what he characterized as painstaking coordination with the social media giant. The process took almost a month, and even involved him reaching out to a classmate from Baruch College who works for Facebook.
Stevens said the hackers also gained access to his email account that was associated with the Facebook page and other apps for which he created accounts using his Facebook, including DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft.
He said that within minutes of discovering the hack, there were five separate food orders across the country totaling more than $250.
Facebook, which did not answer questions regarding Stevens’ case, offers guided help for users whose accounts have been compromised.
“Your account should represent you, and only you should have access to your account. If someone gains access to your account, or creates an account to pretend to be you or someone else, we want to help,” the Facebook website reads. “We also encourage you to let us know about accounts that represent fake or fictional people, pets, celebrities or organizations.”
Multiple news reports from around the country show similar hacking incidents to what Stevens experienced. Facebook lists a number of recommendations on how users can keep their accounts safe, including two-step authentication and setting up login alerts.
Going forward, Stevens said he plans to use two-step authentication on all his accounts, and hopes other Facebook users do the same.
“I’m almost scarred from this whole process and I’m just very scared of it ever happening again,” he said.