November 12, 2018 9:28 pm
Updated: November 14, 2018 8:24 am

How a B.C. Instagram influencer lost 42,000 followers from hack and fought to get them back

WATCH ABOVE: Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa has the story of a B.C. social media influencer whose Instagram account was hacked, costing her thousands of followers.

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A social media influencer who was recently hacked on Instagram is sharing her frustration with the social networking site over its lack of customer support.

“You literally feel helpless,” Meagan Baldini said. “There’s nothing you can do.”

At the time of the hack, Baldini had more than 42,000 followers on megbaldini Instagram account, where her lip art attracted some of the biggest cosmetics brands in the world.

“It’s a business, it’s my second job,” said Baldini.

Her social media nightmare began, when someone hijacked her personal email account, then gained access to her Instagram account, preventing Baldini from resetting her Instagram password.’

The hacker then demanded Baldini wire money overseas or risk losing all of her followers. She refused to pay and filed a police report, but within two hours she lost her Instagram account and all of her followers.

“I was so devastated, because I lost the history of my art, which is a big thing for me,” Baldini said.

She reached out to Instagram for help, but says she only received automated messages.

READ MORE: Under the influence: inside the ‘Wild West’ of social media ‘influencer’ marketing

Eventually Baldini says she received an email from Instagram informing her the account she was trying to recover had been permanently deleted.

“You can’t reply because it’s an automated email and when I did try to reply it doesn’t go anywhere,” she said.

“There’s no phone support, no online email support, no chat support. You can’t get a hold of them. It’s impossible.”

Baldini says she refused to take no for an answer and reached out randomly to Instagram and Facebook employees via LinkedIn.

Baldini says a week later a Facebook employee responded and restored her original account along with her 42,000 followers.

“They basically just asked for the information on my old account and they said what’s your new email that you want it associated to and within a day I had it back, “she said.

READ MORE: This social media star lost 63,000 followers when she started posting body-positive messages

Security expert Chester Wisniewski from Sophos says he isn’t surprised by Baldini’s experience with Instagram.

“All of these services, honestly, in social media are doing a terrible job in that they don’t encourage people strongly enough to take advantage of that two-factor or two-step authentication and when something does go wrong they pretty much say, ‘Well, sorry,’” said Wisniewski.

Wisniewski recommends social media users turn on two-factor authentication or two-step verification as an extra layer of protection that goes beyond a username and password.

“The idea is instead of only having to know the secret password which sometimes can be stolen, it also sends you a text message and says enter this six-digit number when you log into your account.”

WATCH: Online security experts say we should use a virtual private network when going online. David Papp explains what it is and why we should use it.

As for Baldini, she has this message for Instagram: “They need to get it together, because they shouldn’t allow people to host their business on their platform without offering customer support.”

Consumer Matters did reach out to Instagram, but no one from the social networking site responded to our request.

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