Update Jan 30th, 2023: our Facebook page was recoeverd! See how we recovered our Facebook Page here.
Hello faithful fans of the Foreigners in Taiwan website and blog.
I have some sad news. Our Facebook Page was recently hacked and stolen.
Whether or not we will ever get ownership and access to the old page remains to be seen. For now, the Facebook Support team has been no help at all.
In this blog, I will show you exactly how I was hacked so that you can avoid the same problem, and protect your business and assets that use Facebook Pages.
I own the Foreigners in Taiwan blog website https://www.foreignersintaiwan.com/ and I also have connected Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/foreignersintw/?hl=en), Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCeahPf5SIYB3KtQuFVS8bg), and Twitter accounts (https://twitter.com/foreignersinTW) which I fully control and have been running for years since the blog began. The entire Facebook Page was made for my website and blog, and everything I post is about life as a foreigner in Taiwan.
Background: Understanding Meta Business Manager
Recently Meta Business Manager has come out with new functions to make it easier for employees of a business to access the company Facebook Page and perform tasks. In order to give access to a Facebook page, a business manager can send a link to someone's email address, which they can then use to access the business manager account as an employee. Then, the employee can "add assets" to the business manager account. Here is the catch, as soon as you add assets to the business manager account, the owner of the business manager account can then claim ownership of the page and change admins at will, like a super admin.
Hackers recently have been using this function to send phishing links to unsuspecting page owners promising them ad money. Once the page owner ads their page as an asset, it's game over. It is nearly impossible to get your page back after that.
Facebook Pages are connected to a business account, not to an email, username, and password.
I am not the only one that has fallen for this kind of scam and lost the Facebook page connected to their business. Here are a few news articles for your reference:
Short Summary of How I was Hacked:
My FB page was stolen through a phishing scam. Phishing means sending an email with a malicious link or attachment. First, they send an email saying "We want "Sponsored ads" on your Facebook page, you will be paid $1800$ per week". Then they send an invitation to manage their Meta Ads account Then once you log in they take ownership of your page.
I was NOT hacked because they found my username and password.
Timeline of Events:
September 29th, 2022: I receive a suspicious email from a stranger offering to pay me for placing Facebook ads, which obviously turned out to be a scam. I suspected it to be a scam, but I thought there was nothing to lose so why not see what would happen. I never received payment or gave permission for them to take over my Facebook Page.
September 30th: I receive an email from Facebook that says "Facebook Team has given you access to Ads.account's business on Facebook so you can work on their Pages and ad accounts." The link sent was as follows: https://fb.me/1HgFh1ooKoPmtUL
If you click on the same link now, you will see that the owner is Deepak Technical Bazaar, who has a Youtube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@DeepakTechnicalBazaar/videos. Yes, I found the hacker. I reached out to Deepak and it turns out that he sells Facebook Likes for a living. So he is stealing people's Facebook Pages to harvest their likes.
I clicked the link and added my Facebook page, not realizing at all and with no warning that I was probably giving away the ownership of my page. I did not realize what was going on and it was unclear what was happening. I was not familiar with Meta's ads platform.
I did not give permission for the hackers to gain ownership of my page. I also did not receive any payment from them.
I noticed that there were other admins connected to my Facebook Page, all weird people I didn't know. I deleted them, but could not delete the business account in control (first Ads.account, then someone called Nono, see screenshot above). I was soon deleted as an admin.
Oct. 1, 2022: I lost access to my old page: https://www.facebook.com/Foreignersintaiwanblog. The new business owner removed me as an admin.
Later on the new admins started posting a bunch of weird posts, so of animal cruelty, some of them at an airport, at a mall, and some viral videos stolen from somewhere else. It is clear the hackers have a media empire with tons of unsuspecting followers.
The hackers then posted a weird gaming video on my page. I contacted Facebook support many times regarding this issue. I noted that at one time the Facebook page said that the admins were based in Pakistan. Later the hackers deleted the video, and replaced it with a duplicate of one of our posts from last year. So far over the past months they have posted random videos and changed the profile picture of an older photo we took. I changed my password and turned on two-factor authentication.
The hackers then changed the profile picture and background picture of my page. The profile photo looks like the profile photo of another popular Taiwanese travel blogger.
Also originally I had 13K likes. In a day, that number shot up to 18k.
Now, it has shot up to 23K. It is clear the hackers are mining Facebook likes to sell to others.
The last time they posted was November 8th, 2022.
Luckily they have not deleted any of the previous content that I made on the page.
Besides discovering Deepak Technical Bazaar as explained above, I also used business manager to see who the current owner of the page is. It stated it was owned by Dj Dave NZ & Big Boys Crew. What would some DJs in New Zealand want to do with my page?
So I reached out to Dave.
It turns out Dave's account was hacked and stolen too, but somehow he still has access to chat on his page https://www.facebook.com/bigboyzcrewNZ/
Also, the hackers are using his Meta Business Account to hack tons of other FB pages. So there are lots of other people being hacked the same way. This is a major issue and security breach that Facebook should have top priority to resolve.
Reaching out to Facebook Support for Help:
From the beginning I sent multiple reports to Facebook using every possible means I knew how. Most of these reports went unanswered. The most responsive way was contacting the team through the help button on the Meta Business platform. They email you kind of fast, like once every three days. Anyway, I sent them the info they needed above.
A few weeks later, I receive the awesome news that I have been placed as the sold admin of my Facebook Page, and the hackers have been removed! But after checking, this was not the case. I was not made the admin and still do not have ownership of the page. I have no Idea how Facebook Support could make such a mistake. I think they may have mistook my new page for the old one. More on their incompetence later.
Later I received the email above. Our team's initial review that "there is evidence to suggest there was a compromise" is ridiculous and totally unacceptable. Just visit https://facebook.com/Foreignersintaiwanblog, the hackers posted weird videos every day that have nothing to do with Taiwan, and then stopped posting on Nov. 8th.
How to contact a real person at Facebook Support through Live Chat:
After sending multiple emails with no result, I really wanted to have a live chat with Facebook. But they have no phone number, no support email, no way to contact them at all.
How do you contact Facebook through a call or live chat?
Go to Meta Commerce Manager, press the help button, press contact support, fill out the form, and select the "chat" option.
See below for screen shots.
First open Meta Business Manager and click on Commerce. Then click on the help button on the bottom left corner.
You will see a side bar appear on the right. Click on the contact Facebook Support Button.
Fill out the form any way you want, then click the chat button.
You will be taken into a live chat with Facebook Business Support.
As you can see above, I was able to enter the live chat. Later Facebook sent me an email which I responded to with a copy of my ID and a signed written statement. But the same thing happened again; I received an email that said they did not see any evidence of a compromise.
Also, almost every email was written by a new employee. My case has been passed from person to person like hot potato, so it is no wonder that the team cannot resolve my issue when the new person doesn't even know what is going on.
So far in my experience the Meta Pro team seems to be a call center somewhere in a third world country run by incompetents. The team is totally unhelpful, inefficient, ineffective, doesn't understand complex issues, doesn't care, and just replies with standard wording each time. They are the worst customer service team I have ever dealt with, even worse than the IRS.
Getting your Facebook page hacked is like watching someone steal your car and drive around town crashing into objects and causing mayhem. Or like stealing your artwork and spray painting graffiti on it.
However getting my Facebook hacked has had little influence on my website and ad revenue. In fact, the relationship is negligible. It's all about SEO.
Even though I had thousands of followers, Facebook's algorithm hid all my posts from my follower's feeds for a while (like 2 years) until I upgraded to the "new pages."
So it was basically a worthless platform for a long time. If you follow me you know that I have hated Facebook as a platform for a long time, but sadly the most people use it.
One of the most precious things taken from us when our FB page was hacked was our 360 degree spherical panoramas of Taiwan. We have created an album where we will slowly post them to the new FB page here: https://facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.124765560459024&type=3&mibextid=ncKXMA
Also of course all the old blog posts are connected to the old page. So I will have to go back and change the like button for every single post.
In November my parents also came to visit, so I took the month off from blogging, in hopes that I would get ownership of my page soon. Seeing that that will not likely happen soon, I am back to making new blogs after a month-long hiatus and I will keep on with my routine of three new posts per week.
I still have a huge backlog of posts, so I have to keep posting.
Hopefully we will get access to the page again someday. I have reached out to my cousin who works at Facebook, but all he could do was fill out a form just like I did. He still has not received an answer. Also I wrote a letter to my attorney general who said they would contact Facebook for me regarding the issue. If you know someone that works at Facebook that can help me get ownership of my page back, please feel free to get in touch.
How you can help:
Thanks for reading and for all your support!
Update Jan 30th, 2023: our Facebook page was recoeverd! See how we recovered our Facebook Page here.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.