Time to hold Meta to account on help
THE UK has a population of 68 million and more than 50 million of us have a Facebook account, which many describe as their “link to the outside world”.
When it works, it is undoubtedly a brilliant and popular platform.
But it’s a different story when something goes wrong, as getting in contact with Facebook and owner Meta to secure “human” assistance is nigh impossible.
When you buy goods or services you are protected by various consumer laws (including the Consumer Rights Act 2015) and have an expectation that you will get a level of customer service.
In its most basic form, you expect to be able to seek help from the seller/service provider.
However, these are not rules Meta seems to play by as it appears to have an attitude that it provides a free service, so the consumer’s only right is to use the platform.
But this is not an accurate reflection of the true position and, in my opinion, users of the Facebook platform have all the usual consumer rights and they also have contractual rights as they are getting a service they have paid for (not in cash but with their data).
The legal position
Consumer users of Facebook have a contract with the platform – on the consumer’s side, they agree to abide by Meta’s terms of service and Facebook Community Standards. This includes allowing Facebook to present relevant adverts and to use the consumer’s data to generate this. On its side, Meta/facebook agrees to provide the platform for consumers to use.
In using Facebook, consumers not only interact on a regular basis with other users but store valuable memories (including pictures, messages, check-ins, etc) and trust these will be safely stored and remain available to them.
While Facebook is promoted as a “free” service it’s not really, as it is using consumers’ data (not directly selling it but rather using it to sell advertising).
As such, a contract exists and consumers should be able to expect to receive a service and reach out to seek help or complain from time to time.
Lots of people have reached out to me to say they have not been able to reach Meta to seek help with a wide range of issues, from password problems to fraudulent activity and being locked out of their account.
Jordan Jonathan was locked out of his account due to a “linked Instagram account breaching community rules”. It turned out the linked account had nothing to do with him and was fraudulent.
He said: “I’ve been going through Twitter and it seems to have happened to a lot of people. Mine happened on May 5 and I’ve since been going crazy on how to get it back”
Jordan is not alone as many others have contacted me with the same issue – and all have said they have not been able to get help from Meta and remain locked out of their accounts.
I asked Meta for comment and for guidance as to what consumers like Jordan should do. While the company has opened a dialogue with me I still have not had any meaningful information that will help consumers.