In mid-February, I woke up to a Cybernightmare. The only problem is it wasn't a dream. A hacker broke into the Facebook account I had built carefully and thoughtfully over a four year period, and with the flick of an eye (or perhaps the click of a mouse), disabled my account, unfriended my 1679 friends and obliterated me and all of the community service group pages, event pages and professional group pages I had created.
I felt more than cyber-robbed. I felt cyber-raped. With so much hype about social media as a necessity for business survival, discovering there is no recourse when someone destroys your cyberexistence is beyond devastating. I learned painfully that Facebook has no human beings offering technical support. I tried all of their possible on-line pathways to report and try to solve the problem fruitlessly. The assistance of the five most technically savvy people I know did not make a dent in the problem.
When cybercrimes are committed, there is no cyberpolice to call. Who do you call? Was the crime even committed locally? Did the person who hacked you even know you? Was it deliberate or just someone's idea of a fun prank? Lots of questions. No answers. And huge impact with no solution, except to start the hard work and month of effort to rebuild ones social network all over again.
Several people have said, "Facebook is free. You get what you pay for." I find this untrue and misleading. Facebook is using all of us to create a multi-billion dollar business empire. All of our profiles and detailed information is the currency that is traded to make the Facebook founders and investors their megabucks.
I do not wish to be use or exploited as a faceless piece of data. It is a kind of cyberslavery, capturing the personal and business lives of the masses.
The cybermonster has gotten out of control, and it is eating its children. The more removed from human systems our world becomes, the more freedom there is to wreak havoc with no accountability and no consequences. The cybercriminal is anonymous, invisible, unfindable to all but the most technically sophisticated--untraceable.
To add insult to injury, as I started to rebuild a new profile and try to refind my real world friends on Facebook, I was "punished" for trying to add too many people at once. "Do you really know this person?" asked Facebook, as I clicked on the profile of someone I had just spent time with. My clicking "Yes, I know them in real life" was not good enough for the computer algorithm. I was punished for "inviting people I don't actually know" and blocked from friending people for 2 days.
While all the bells and whistles of Facebook are fun and seductive, rarely do we have reason to think of the dark side of this addictive technology. When friends and business associates don't even send regular e-mails, but instead contact one another through Facebook, losing ones profile is the equivalent of being lost in a tidal wave. Radio silence and no way to let anyone know.
Perhaps it is time for a CyberFBI. Or a Citizens United For Social Media Rights and Accountability Movement. We need to occupy our lives and our social networks again, and not just give our power away to a very hungry business that does care about any of us personally. Until people band together and take action against the monolithic cyberpresence, hacking and cybercrime will proliferate unmanaged and uncontained.
To create such a fundamental infrastructure for people's businesses and lives without the conscience that a human technical support department represents is dangerous and frightening. Time to take out our flashlights and shine some light in this darkness!
Copyright 2012 Linda Marks