Someone has taken Jonathan Emile’s 80,000 fans hostage, and he seems to be powerless to liberate them.
Emile, a Montreal-based hip-hop artist, has made his living building a fan base online.
Last Thursday, he tried to log in as the administrator of his Facebook fan page, and was told he didn’t have any access privileges, neither did his manager or another colleague to whom Emile gave privileges.
He believes his account has been hijacked, likely by a spammer, or a robot software program designed by a spammer. His suspicions were reinforced when he saw someone had used his name to post a link on his fan page site, that Emile said appeared to be malicious: either a virus or spam.
“Facebook is crucial for what I do; it’s the primary way I communicate with my fans,” Emile said. “(Without administrator privileges), I can’t control what’s being said in my name, and I can’t have a dialogue with my fans. I also can’t upload any videos, or new music.”
Emile said he takes time every day to reach out to fans and respond to their messages, mostly on Facebook. Although he also has 100,000 fans on YouTube, most of those have been reached through Facebook, he said. If he can’t update his site regularly, or if his fan page becomes a repository for spam, he could lose that fan base very quickly.
“We filled out a form, and immediately got a canned response, saying basically, “˜sorry for the inconvenience, but we can’t help you.’ It’s not clear if anyone read the email, or if this is just a response that is automatically generated.”
Emile said every response he received from Facebook said the company doesn’t give access privileges to people who aren’t authorized.
“They kept telling me that I am not the current administrator of the page, so they can’t help me,” Emile said. “They ask you to verify yourself when you create the page, and in fact, I took a picture of myself holding an ID, and sent it to Facebook along with my cellphone number and email address. Still, somehow, they feel the only person who has access privileges is the current person who is the administrator, which is the person that hijacked the account.”
Emile said he doesn’t know who took control of his account, but posted a message pleading with that person to restore his access privileges. He also has filled out several forms online, sent several emails to the company, and prodded fans to do the same. Still, he has heard nothing from the social networking site.
Emile said after researching the problem online, he found many other occurrences of sites getting hijacked, and used for spamming, or held for ransom. He said Facebook seems to be powerless to stop it, or doesn’t seem to care.
Someone named Perry Bishop posted the following on a Facebook page:
“My Facebook was hacked. I sent messages to Facebook to help me retrieve my account and out (of) the 20 times I sent them my trouble ticket they not once responded. So I made a new account and reported my hacked account and went through the step again by messaging Facebook 10 more times. To my surprise, not a single response yet again. I reported the account over four months ago and not once has Facebook (taken) even one step to delete my account to prevent the hacker (from) using my identity.”