Friends, this is not an investigation about a great mossy building. Warning! Warning! We have now entered a nightmare world of contemporary times. If you’ve gathered with us for a long while then you already know that I wish my architectural cases could reach you in the 1940s paper pocket book format as the gods intended but sadly, I write online. I conduct my operation through a website and even in that, I have come to rely on social media so that you can find my stories. Gracious me, we must think about words like “platform.” Regrettably this post is about the cyber realm, a reality that I do not like to focus on. Please forgive me. So here’s the unfortunate story.
Last Sunday night or Monday morning, whichever you prefer, dear, Miss Cassette fell prey to some hackers. In the morning I awoke and found my personal email had been broken into with some threatening words about paying the cyber bandits off in bit coin and that they were “listening in” through my devices and going to publish my videos—and “you wouldn’t want that, would you?” After I changed my password, Mr. Cassette and I got to snorting about my meager selection of not-so-salacious videos of local Omaha homes and our cats. Of course, you would like my videos, I am quite sure of that because you’re my kind, but they are certainly not sextortion material.
The hackers would have been privy to such videos greats as this. Some of my best work! Press the arrow to play the video of 508 North 85th Street.
I thought I was ever so clever and had averted their devilish plan, until I went to log into my Facebook account. Oddly FB had deactivated the My Omaha Obsession page (in addition to my personal page) because of inappropriate content.
I would find in my emails that Facebook had sent the My Omaha Obsession business page a notification in the wee hours: “We’ve raised your billing threshold to your requested amount.” I never sent this request. They then billed me, according to my bank. Approximately fifteen minutes later the Facebook Security Team sent another email saying they disabled my page “because your account, or activity on it, doesn’t follow our Community Standards.” I contacted my bank, which turned off my debit card so that FB and the hackers could not continue to access it; my bank is disputing the charge. I had to file a police report for this disputation.
Behind the Scenes
I have since fallen down a rabbit hole of another nature and come to know a little too much about hackers and Facebook. Apparently this practice of overtaking someone’s Facebook account (particularly of interest are those sad sacks like myself with business accounts and an attached debit card) is quite popular. The thieves will “boost” advertising thresholds in the night, which FB is more than happy to oblige. A win-win? The swindlers either run cheap scams and make a bunch of money before they get caught, or in my case, they post inappropriate content (graphic violence or pornography) which they blast quickly before they get the unsuspecting page banned. What is the point, you ask? Just to be divisive and abject, I figure. As if that wasn’t problem enough, the artificial intelligence (AI) at FB are good about catching the obvious, offensive material and banning said user, but AI is not good about snagging the suspicious increase of advertising dollars in the middle of the night. Because it benefits FB, you wonder aloud? They are also not good at discerning the scam once brought to their attention. Unfortunately, from what I’ve gathered, there are not enough humans working at FB to do these reviews in a timely manner. As of now, I have been deactivated for 30 days while these offending postings, whatever they were, are reviewed. Interestingly because there are so many of these hacking cases, FB is often not able to complete the review before people’s personal and business pages and all data are deleted. The unpunishable clause is that we know when we sign on to FB that they own our data, photos, writing etc. I have filed for full FB review and also filed on another of their links that that I was compromised. I have sent numerous emails to every Tom, Dick and Jane at Support, Appeals, Hacks and otherwise. There’d be all sorts of things to discuss and attend to, if only they’d pick up the horn.
This problem of being hacked and then finding FB unresponsive within their own determined 30-day countdown, has led to some creative desperation on the public’s part. I would find a work-around a little too late. Quest 2 is a premium all-in-one VR gaming system sold by FB. The Oculus Quest 2 headset, at $300 a pop, is made by Facebook — which is now branded as a Meta product. A Facebook account is required in order for someone to order an Oculus. Facebook users, who had been hacked and had their accounts deactivated, began calling the Oculus phone number in order to get a human on the line. They ordered the Oculus and in doing so, the FB employee would turn their account back on. When the VR headset showed up, the FB user would then return the item. This was such a popular misuse of the Oculus, that FB no longer offers a direct telephone number for orders.
What This Means
At this point My Omaha Obsession has lost contact with some 6,400 of its readers due to this FB dilemma. (As an aside, if you happened to be awake in the wee hours of March 28 and saw some troublesome postings on my page, I am sorry you had to see that.) There were other shorter FB-only investigations that I was slowly moving over to this website but overall what I cringe to think of is the loss of the communication and rolling banter through time with other like minded sleuths… Of course I would love if everyone reading this bit of sadness today would sign up for the My Omaha Obsession emails directly from this website, but I know that can’t happen. It won’t happen because most of my detective friends reading this are already on the email and don’t follow through Facebook anyway. As far as social media platforms go, there is no better reach than with Facebook.
I am writing this post today in hopes that if anyone comes looking, you will understand what transpired. And to encourage you to come looking around here. Just the other weekend we were celebrating six years of joyous Facebook bliss. Of course the hacking had to come on an anniversary. I am not sure, a week later, that My Omaha Obsession will be allowed a FB account in the future. It is not looking good. Mr. Cassette, who doesn’t have much use for this online folly, says it’s a good time to buckle down and write book number two. I guess I’m still holding out hope for the My Omaha Obsession Facebook page. As always, I am open to your feedback, sneaky ideas, or suggestions if you have experienced similar. For now I’ll keep researching and leaning on this building with my hat pushed back. Just watching people and for what happens next.
Until we meet again for a big Westside story years in the works, please, for the love of Cornell Woolrich, let’s keep our eyes open for a bit of mystery. It is all around us. And in the case of my FB issue, please cross some fingers or light a candle or throw salt or something.
**Addendum of April 11, 2022**
A little update. My bank was able to resolve the dispute with Facebook. The charges to my FB ad account were proven fraudulent and my personal bank account was credited. Dismally I have heard not a peep from Facebook, even though they rectified the situation with my bank. As of now, I am still in “review” and my FB accounts are disabled.
**Addendum of April 30**
As of April 18, I had sent 22 emails to the appropriate FB review boards in addition to other FB departments. I heard nothing back except from Katherine in the Intellectual Properties Department, who told me she could not help me nor could she redirect my claim to the appropriate channel. Not able to log in, file additional complaints, ask for additional reviews, give specifics of my experience, go to the My Omaha Obsession page or my personal page, everything appeared frozen and that I was “in review.” On April 25, 2022, I was allowed to see additional details. It appeared that FB A.I. were reviewing my case; the hackers had evidently posted child pornography. They described explicitly what was not allowed as far as child pornography. (I will not show that specific drop-down description, as it is triggering in and of itself.) So the countdown was on and there were three days left of the review until I would be kicked off.
On April 29, 2022 when I tried to check my Facebook account it said, “Your account has been disabled. You can’t use Facebook because your account or activity on it, didn’t follow our Community Standards.” So the bots had won and no human reviewed my case within the time frame allotted. Although another FB department could see that I was charged fraudulently because of the hacking, this information was not given to the other departments, apparently. Does this sound unbelievable?
Unfortunately, once Facebook disables an account permanently, you cannot rejoin, as one might think. You are banned for life. They use a detection system. My personal identity and the My Omaha Obsession identity are kicked off. What I have found is that Facebook recognizes your email address/es. They recognize your phone, your home and work computer. If you attempt to get a new email address, they will recognize your IP address or whatever other signals are associated with your account. The My Omaha Obsession name or similar cannot exist on FB.
**Addendum of May 30, 2022 I tried to run a test and create another My Omaha Obsession Facebook page. I had to create a fake personal page in order to have the blog’s page again. In my test I had friends search for it by name on Facebook and they could not find it. Only when I sent them a direct link could they see it. Within days Facebook still wasn’t cycling the new page, which meant that no one could find it, see the page or posts, sign up or rejoin. So not only was the old page and all content gone, Facebook was blocking anyone from finding the new page. I deleted the FB account after none of my readers were able to find the page.
**Addendum of June 11, 2022 My Omaha Obsession Twitter account was hacked. I deleted the Twitter account and my Pinterest account.
As much as it pains me to lose my whole My Omaha Obsession following, it hurts even more to think of the regrettable loss of my whole photo archive on my personal page. If you think I am obsessive about Omaha buildings, you should have seen my digital files on the Omaha music, house party and arts scene. It went back to the 1980s. Meticulously catalogued by date and year, labeled participants, events and location. All gone. Your account/s is not visible on Facebook, you can’t use it or let anyone know what happened to you. All of my friends, coworkers and family. Dangflabbit! When they say Facebook owns your images, I was agreeable when I signed on but I never thought that I, the photographer, would not have access to my own archives. I share the specifics of this long, drawn out affair, because this can happen to any one of you. I want you all to back up your photographs and have full recognition of what this company is capable of.
You can keep up with my latest investigations by joining my email group. Click on “Contact” then look for “Sign me up for the Newsletter!” Enter your email address. You will get sent email updates every time I have written a new article. Thank you, Omaha friends. Miss Cassette
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If you are looking for more architectural and Omaha history sleuthing fun, ask your local or bigbox bookseller for my new book: My Omaha Obsession: Searching for the City. Also available everywhere online. Thank you.