Hey Trish, What do I do when my Facebook account is hacked? I received an email saying someone changed my password and I’m locked out!! I have personal photos and videos I don’t want the world to see.
Hi there, and thank you so much for your important question. First and foremost, I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing this situation. I can only imagine how stressful and frustrating it is, and I completely understand your desire to keep your account – and your personal and sensitive information – to yourself. With that said, thank you so much for so bravely raising this issue. It’s one that, I promise you, many Ask Trish readers have likely faced at one time or another; according to some reports, thousands of Facebook users report being hacked every day. So do know that you’re not alone – and that you shouldn’t feel ashamed. This is not your fault, and as stressful of a situation as this is, it’s not the end of the world, and there are steps you can take to try to secure your account and/or keep the hacker away.
That’s exactly what I’ll get into in this brief – but hopefully handy – post. Below, I include a step-by-step guide of what to do when your Facebook (or general social media account) is hacked. Let’s get right into it:
- Keep an eye out for a hack. In your case, it’s clear you’ve been hacked – as you said, you received an email saying someone changed your password (and you know for a fact that that was not you). As a general note for our broader audience, though, you should keep your eyes peeled for a hack. Sometimes, the hack is more subtle, or the hacker may not lock you out by changing your password – so keep an eye out for other things, like your email being changed, your name being changed, friend requests being sent to people you don’t know, or messages that you didn’t author being sent to people you don’t know.
- If you think your account has been compromised, act fast to try to change your password and secure your account. Go to your social media account’s Settings and change your password immediately. You should ideally also log out of all sessions and log back into your account using your new password.
- If you’re too late and your password has already been changed, leverage your social media’s tools to secure the account. In Facebook’s case, for instance, you can visit this page to try to secure your account; you can also report the incident to the social media company (for Facebook, you can also do that via the link above). I know this is a frustrating, time-consuming process (and that lots of folks never hear back), but with a little persistence, you might succeed (I’m crossing my fingers that you do).
- If you’re worried that the hacker might/you know the hacker is engaging in behavior that can harm you/your reputation or your friends, get ahead of the problem by letting your friends know. On your other social media accounts, for instance, you can let family and friends know that you’ve been hacked and that they shouldn’t, for instance, respond to messages or click on any links that are sent to them. (Indeed, many hackers will use the hack to send viruses or scams to a victim’s social media network.)
- ^To that end, you can create a new social media account on the platform – with a new, fail-safe password – to reclaim your identity and persona. In your bio, say something like, “My account @hackedaccount was hacked! This is my new account.”
- If things get scary, get the support you need immediately. Sometimes, hacker situations can get a lot worse than a virus…hackers can sometimes threaten to expose sensitive information or personal photos unless victims pay them or satisfy another condition. These situations are, of course, incredibly scary. First and foremost, as hard as it is, do not panic. It’s a tough situation, but it’s not one that defines or in any way degrades you. Capture evidence of the extortion (e.g., screenshots) and try to get to support straightway – for instance, as a minor, you may be able to turn to law enforcement for help.
I hope you find this post a valuable tool as you navigate a tough situation. I’m so sorry again that this happened to you, and I’m sincerely hoping, on your behalf, that the situation doesn’t become worse in any way. In any case, though, as I said, I promise that it’s not the end of the world. This isn’t your fault, and you should never feel worthless or ashamed as a result (the only person that should feel bad is the hacker).
Before we part ways for this week, one last thing: whether you’re an #AskTrish regular, or you’ve just started recently watching #AskTrish videos or reading these posts, don’t hesitate to share any of your thoughts, musings, or questions about the Internet here. Your topic just might be featured in next week’s TikTok/blog post! Remember, any time you share a thought or question, our entire community learns from you – and there’s really a good chance there are other youth wondering the same thing. So take a chance – and just 2 minutes – to fill out that form! And never: anything on your mind is fair game. No matter what you’re thinking about/needing advice on, I’m excited to hear from you and hopefully offer some helpful advice.
Thank you all,