The Emotional Damage of a Social Media Hack
Many of you know that on January 14th, I was hacked on Facebook. That 1 event started a domino effect. Overnight I was deactivated on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. I had to shut down our bank account and credit card. What I have not talked about was the emotional damage.
I filed multiple Facebook appeals which were all ignored. I received a notification that I violated community standards on child sexual exploitation. Imagine being accused of something so horrendous and not getting an opportunity to dispute this.
There were many moments during my prayer time where I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. Heading into January, I was already burned out. I was on the social media hamster wheel producing a ridiculous amount of content to appease the algorithms so our posts would be shown to people who already follow us. It’s a game we could never win.
Every day I would wake up to a new message from one of our ministry groups saying how they were praying for us. Many of our groups rely on us to help employ their artisans. The Marketplace not being around would greatly affect so many. There was a defining moment where I had to decide to dig in my heels and fight.
Week after week I received emails asking when we would be back on social media. I didn’t want to go back. I felt personally betrayed by Facebook. Every morning I would get up, sit with my Bible, and have conversations with Jesus. Each day started with me crying. I was not sleeping or eating. My life's work is championing the causes of the oppressed. Here I was being accused and found guilty of something so ugly and never getting a chance to clear my name. I was on Facebook for over 15 years and instead of looking at the long-term relationship, they chose to look at 1 post that was so out of character. I totally understand Facebook locking my account until they could investigate. Instead of acknowledging that their 2-step security was not as secure as they would like us to think, they just cancelled me. Overnight, we lost 8,000 followers. This greatly affected the lives of all our artisans as our sales took a hit.
I couldn't get over this on my own. I needed God's help. Slowly He started healing my heart and reminding me of how he saw me. 6 weeks after the hack, I restarted The Marketplace Instagram page on a much lesser scale and started focusing on engaging with our community on a platform that we owned, our website.
The next blow came days later. I received a phone call from a Special Agent with the NC State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI). I was being investigated on charges of cyber child pornography. The lead investigator said this claim was initiated through Facebook. He is required by law to investigate each allegation. Facebook would not even tell him exactly what was posted or even the IP address. As he was looking into background, he knew there was more to this story and wanted to talk to me. "You do not fit the profile of a child predator." He quickly dismissed the case and said, “this has happened to hundreds of Facebook users in NC in the last 6 weeks.” He had a phone call scheduled with Facebook to discuss the rise of these cases. I am thankful that I had a solid reputation of working at a church for 11 years and creating/directing a Christian nonprofit for 10 years. I would hate to see what would have happened to me if I had anything questionable in my background.
While all of this sounds horrible and it was, God created something beautiful. The hack gave me much-needed time to reflect. I realized I was trying to pour from an empty vessel. He helped me create healthy boundaries and build in time for self-care. I had to reestablish that The Marketplace has never just been a job for me, it's a calling. I wouldn't quit, I would just get more creative. I also will never have another personal social media page.
I wanted to take an opportunity to thank you for all your prayers and purchases. I received numerous emails, texts, phone calls, and online chat messages. It made me truly appreciate the community we built together. During this season, God assured me that the rise and fall of The Marketplace does not rest on what I do, it rests on what he does. And God continues to bless The Marketplace.
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Any resolution with FB? This just happened to my wife.
A friend of mine recently had her account hacked same as you and she is currently dealing with what you have dealt with. I think out of all the victims of this hacking scheme (besides the poor exploited children, I mean this deserves the death penalty) is those who accidently while navigating through their facebook feed stumble upon this, and that is me.
I had never in my life seen a single pic of a sex act involving children (yes, children under 10 years of age). This happened 3 days ago and I still have the vivid horrific image in my mind, How can there be people so sick! but more than being angry at the hacker ( which don’t be surprised is an algorithim more than a real person), I am angry at facebook!! yes!! facebook!! how can one of the richest companies in the world not be able to monitor every single photo uploaded by users, it takes just a second to spot it!!!Searching on this topic I found various articles pointing at the fact that there are laws that protect facebook in events like this and prevent them from being held accountable, that is absurd, this merits a civil class action lawsuit against not just facebook, but every single media web giant out there, this cannot continue.
If you did not get to see the content your hacker posted on your facebook feed, feel lucky and thankful.
Thank you for sharing this sensitive story. You truly inspire me, and I’m so relieved to hear God is using this mightily in your life to teach you and rejuvenate you. Praying for big things ahead. God can’t be stopped. Love and hugs from a sister in Jesus Christ.