An Auckland Indian woman says she is increasingly becoming “suicidal” following the hacking of her Facebook account.
And the biggest frustration which has led to her depressed mental condition is inaction by the social networking organization to shut out the persistent hacker.
Ms X, who wants to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, is unable to deactivate her account because the hacker has changed her password and security questions, which means Facebook officials cannot verify she is telling the truth.
A second account she set up was also hacked last year.
Ms X said this was the first time in her life that she had contemplated suicide.
“I have contacted Facebook but they can't verify that it is me because someone changed all the security questions,” the teary 49-year-old mother of one told the Indian Weekender.
“I feel like I’m being stalked 24/7, my privacy is being invaded, and I can’t do a thing about it.
“It’s such a fearful existence,” Ms X said.
“I feel so angry and sad because all my family photos are in it. Hundreds of them.
“Whoever has hacked it is accepting friends on my behalf and also changed my profile picture,” Ms X said.
“With my other Facebook account, I can't verify it is me because the person has changed all my security questions, my DOB and every other detail.
“With the new, I have told them it is hacked, so they have blocked it until I change the password.
“I am so angry and stressed, and the stress is taking a toll on my mental state.
“It’s only the support of my family that keeps me going.”
Ms X’s case follows another reported in the New Zealand Herald last year.
Shadi Salehpour’s personal information and photos were taken from her page and used in a derogatory fake profile.
She was told by a family friend about the profile, which included sexual references in her "interests" and quotations.
In another report in the Herald last year, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said the 55 per cent of New Zealanders who thought Facebook was a "private space" was naive.
“So it is slightly risky to assume a social media site is private."
Auckland University final year politics and media student Varsha Kumar, who recently did a paper on social media, said: “The advantage of physical and visible anonymity on the internet alludes to a sense of control over identity.
“However, this perceived control of online representation is shaped by social constructions administered by society and those in charge of particular online social domains. This is particularly concerning for children and adolescents who actively use social networking sites such as Facebook.
“But if we accept that websites like Facebook bridge the offline and online worlds, then we must also accept that Facebook as a real impact on our lives, not just our digital selves...
“Facebook doesn’t forget. And it doesn’t want you to either.”
Miss Kumar said there was also pressure from corporations such as Facebook and Google to encourage people to maintain a single online identity.
“This is to the main benefit of the social networking giants, who are pushing to become professional internet passports providers for everyone – that is to say – one would only need to login through their Facebook account to authenticate access to other sites.”
Safe networking site www.netsafe.org.nz said there were many different issues which could arise on Facebook like imposter profiles, being locked out of your account, being tagged in photos you didn’t want to be posted, abusive messages on your page or about you on someone else’s page.
“The most common query we have from Facebook users and educators is how to report and/or block a fake profile.
“You can report a profile that violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities by clicking the “Report/Block this Person” link in the bottom left column of the profile, usually underneath the list of friends.
“In our experience it can take anywhere between one hour and several weeks for profiles to be removed but it helps if you ask friends to also report a profile and choose carefully from the options listed on the form.”
* Has your Facebook account been hacked? Tell us your story: email firstname.lastname@example.org