Over the past year, Meta Platforms have fired or punished more than two dozen employees and contractors accused of giving attackers unauthorized access to Facebook and Instagram accounts, in some cases for bribes amounting to thousands of dollars. The Wall Street Journal learned about this from sources familiar with the situation and from documents that came into their possession.
According to the publication, all of the fired employees were using Facebook's internal Online Operations tool, which they refer to among themselves as Oops. This tool provides the ability to restore access to the account of users who have forgotten their logins and passwords or have become victims of hacking.
The corporation has strict regulations limiting the range of people who can get help from Oops: these are family members of Meta employees, close friends, business partners of the company and public figures. However, any of them need to fill out the appropriate form each time to use the tool.
It recently emerged that the number of calls to Oops increased from 28,270 tasks in 2017 to 50,270 in 2020. This fact caught management's attention and initiated an investigation, which also revealed that some former employees and contractors of the company retained access to Oops even after they left Meta.
One of the employees fired because of the scandal was Reva Mandelowitz, who worked as a security contractor. She was fired in February after being accused of receiving thousands of dollars in bitcoins for dropping several user accounts for malicious users. WSJ reporters were able to talk to her, but she called all the accusations false. She said she requested 20 account resets for her close ones, and an unknown attacker forced her to ask for more.
Meta had problems even before this scandal. Amid serious financial problems, Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to lay off 11,000 people, about 13% of the corporation's employees. According to the media, this is the largest reduction in the corporation's history.
Horizon Worlds, the company's flagship metaverse creation project, is not living up to developers' expectations and the money invested in it. According to media reports, since 2019, $36 billion has already been invested in research and development related to the meta universe. Since the beginning of last year, $15 billion has been invested in Reality Labs. However, today the metaverse is empty, because the number of active users of Horizon Worlds per month does not reach 200,000 people: only 9% of metaverse worlds have at least 50 visitors a day.