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Ignoring a spam-like email from Facebook could result in your account being locked out

A few users have tweeted that they have been locked out from their Facebook accounts “indefinitely”. According to them, it’s because they did not respond to a mysterious, spam-like email asking them to turn on the Facebook Protect feature by a certain date.

“…I didn’t respond to emails from FB (that looked like a scam) about its new Facebook Protect system, which I was required to enable by today,” tweeted @Olivia_Thiessen on Twitter.

According to Facebook, Facebook Protect is a “security program for groups of people that are more likely to be targeted by malicious hackers, such as human rights defenders, journalists, and government officials”. It’s meant to “ensure those accounts are monitored for hacking threats” and that they are protected by two-factor authentication (2FA).

“We first tested Facebook Protect in 2018 and expanded it ahead of the 2020 US election. We began our global expansion in September of this year. Since then, more than 1.5 million accounts have enabled Facebook Protect, and of those, nearly 950K accounts newly enrolled in two-factor authentication,” wrote Facebook.

If you haven’t gotten an email from Facebook Protect yet, you might in the near future. Facebook is looking to expand the program to more than 50 countries by the end of the year. Your account won’t get locked out unless you get a notification on Facebook that you’re eligible to enroll.

Unfortunately, the email looked an awful lot like spam. The email—sent from the address security@facebookmail.com—was titled “Your account requires advanced security from Facebook Protect”.

It’s practically common knowledge now to know that we should ignore suspicious-looking emails. However, after not activating Facebook Protect before the deadline of 17 March, users were locked out of their Facebook accounts. Users also received a message explaining why they can’t get into their accounts and offering to help them turn it on—but users complained that their accounts are still locked.

“So far, the text and security key options don’t work,” continued Thiessen.

After many complaints by Facebook users, Nathaniel Gleicher—head of security policy at Meta—tweeted that the company was “looking into isolated examples where people may need help enrolling in the program”. He also thanks users for their patience and will continue to “improve the enrollment process and notifications to avoid confusion and will keep iterating”.


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