Instagram and Facebook Users Turn to Small Claims Courts to Recover Lost Accounts

Instagram and Facebook users suing Meta small claims court hacked lost accounts

Facebook and Instagram users are reportedly suing Meta in small claims court to recover their lost accounts due to the social media giant’s lack of customer service help.

According to a report by Engadget, there are a growing number of frustrated Instagram and Facebook users who are using the U.S. court system to get their hacked, lost, or locked accounts back.

These disgruntled Instagram and Facebook users have been forced to take these legal efforts after they were unable to get any help from Meta’s customer service center. Furthermore, these last-ditch attempts in small claim courts appear to be working for some of them.

It’s Impossible to Get Help

Facebook and Instagram have become important marketplaces for people to conduct their business and earn an income. Therefore, when a user loses or gets locked out of their Meta account, it can be disastrous for their livelihoods. However, it is almost impossible for Facebook users to get any assistance in recovering these accounts from Meta itself.

“Meta lacks the necessary volume of human customer service workers to assist those who lose their accounts,” Karissa Bell writes for Engadget.

“The company’s official help pages steer users who have been hacked toward confusing automated tools that often lead users to dead-end links or emails that don’t work if your account information has been changed.

“(The company recently launched a $14.99-per-month program, Meta Verified, which grants access to human customer support. Its track record as a means of recovering hacked accounts after the fact has been spotty at best, according to anecdotal descriptions.)”

Previously, Instagram and Facebook users have been known to take innovative and extreme measures to try to recover their accounts back — from hiring their own hackers to purchasing an Oculus headset because Meta previously has dedicated customer support for this device.

Hundreds of thousands of people have also reportedly written to their state Attorney General’s office to make requests to Meta on their behalf. But many attorney generals across the U.S. have formally asked Meta to fix their customer service after being so inundated with requests from ordinary people.

‘I Can’t Stand Letting Somebody Take Advantage’

But now it seems that there are increasingly more Facebook and Instagram users who are bringing small claims cases against Meta over their lost accounts.

Engadget says it spoke with five individuals who have sued Meta in small claims court over the last two years in four different states. In three cases, the plaintiffs were able to restore access to at least one lost account. One person was also able to win financial damages and another reached a cash settlement. Two cases were dismissed.

In every case, the plaintiffs were at least able to get the attention of Meta’s legal team, which appears to have something of a playbook for handling these claims.

The publication offers the victorious legal case brought against Meta by Valerie Garza who is the owner of a massage business. She successfully sued Meta in a San Diego small claims court in 2022 after a hack that saw her lose her personal and Facebook accounts as well as those associated with her massage. Garza was able to document thousands of dollars in resulting losses after having her accounts hacked.

Garza’s lawsuit took over a year, innumerable hours of work, and three court appearances (which it seems Meta never showed up for.) However, Garza says the legal process was worth it.

“I just can’t stand letting somebody take advantage and walking away,” she tells Engadget.

A Rise in Small Claims Court Cases Against Meta

Patrick Forrest, the chief legal officer for Justice Direct, the legal services startup that owns People Clerk, tells the publication that the company has seen a “significant increase” in cases against Meta over the last couple of years.

According to Engadget, filing a lawsuit against Meta in a small claims court can be a far cheaper and more accessible way of recovering a social media account. The filing fee usually costs under $100 and many courthouses have resources to assist individuals in completing the necessary paperwork for a case.

“There’s no discovery, there are no depositions, there’s no pre-trial,” Bruce Zucker, a law professor at California State University, Northridge, tells the publication.

“You get a court date and it’s going to be about a five or 10-minute hearing, and you have a judge who’s probably also tried to call customer service and gotten nowhere.”

Engadget says that Meta never responded to the specific questions it asked about the substance of its report. Instead, Meta sent the publication a lengthy, blanket statement in which the company appreciated how “losing and recovering access to your online accounts can be a frustrating experience.”

The full report by Engadget can be read here.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.