This morning I had to deal with something that we had not come across before. So with her permission I’m sharing what happened when the 13yo’s FB account was hijacked.
The teenager’s Facebook account was accessed late last night and a status update was posted. She didn’t do it. She was tucked up in bed and any device that she could have used to post was downstairs. The update was something that was designed to upset her and tagged another family member, who was entirely innocent.
As soon as I got up this morning I became aware of what had happened because my account is set up to get an alert on every status update/photograph/item that she posts or shares. I knew straight away that she hadn’t done it. The 13 year old was still in bed and I wanted to try and get to the bottom of it. I woke her and got her to confirm her password. I do have a record of it but I wanted her to know that I was accessing her Facebook account. It was a trust issue.
I logged in as her and first of all ended any active sessions on any devices other than the computer I was using. This prevented anybody from logging in as her from that point forward. I then reset her password. Next I requested a full data archive of her account from Facebook. It’s easy to do and the archive includes log on details, IP addresses used and the devices used to access her Facebook account. This would be key in me tracing the person who accessed her account.
Facebook emailed her a link once the archive was ready to download. It took barely 10 minutes to compile. I’m guessing that if she was a more frequent user it would take longer. You are entitled to request this information at any stage, it is after all your information.
By selecting the security information that I wanted to review, I could see that the person in question had logged into her account for approximately 6 minutes last night. They posted 1 status update and altered no other information.
I could see their ISP (Internet Service Provider), their IP (Internet Protocol) Address, the device they used to access the internet and the browser they used, including the software version.
So, what could I do with all this information?
I guess it depends on the context.
The device, the internet service provider, along with a quick chat with the 13 year old revealed that one of her “friends” with the exact same device had acquired her password by accident a number of weeks ago. This made it highly likely that it was her “friend” who had gone onto her Facebook account and posted the status update. There is a common term that is used to describe this type of behaviour. I’m not going to repeat it here. I’m putting the term “friend” in inverted commas because I don’t believe that this is the way that friends behave towards one another. The status update was designed to upset her.
At this point I decided not to take my enquiries any further and the 13 year old will discuss what happened with the individual directly. She is, needless to say, very upset. She feels like her privacy has been violated, her friendship abused and is very let down by a person she trusted. Particularly when she specifically told her friend that she trusted them not to share her password or use it.
If the person accessing her account had done more then we would have reported their account to Facebook directly. They have a way of dealing with this kind of abuse. We also would have contacted the ISP with the information I downloaded from the archive to inform them that a customer was using their service to abuse/bully another.
You know what though? Most of what my husband and I have had to do today has been parenting, not using some of my know-how and a process of deduction to find out who did it.
We have a very upset 13 year old in the house now. The important thing today has been to support her, acknowledge her upset (I’d be fuming if it happened to me), listen to her rant (13 year olds do this alot), and gently guide her to make the right decisions for herself.
I asked her whether she wanted to add to what I’ve written and this is what she has to say:
It’s not funny, it hurts alot. It kind of feels like you’ve been betrayed.
Sometimes you don’t notice you’re being bullied, and that it happens alot and sometimes you’re afraid of telling your parents because it’s your friends and it’s very confusing. You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to your parents about what is happening online or offline.
I’m sure you’ll join me by sending her a big virtual hug.
I’ve a damp patch on my shoulder but I’d rather have that than her not talking to us about how she feels.