Updated: Jan 29
Over the last 20+ years, we have become very familiar with and reliant on social media. Used by 4.48bn people worldwide, it has helped bridge that gap between friends and family, and many business owners rely on it to expand their customer base to grow their businesses.
Spotlight Hospitality Training was founded in 2020 by New Forest businesswoman Edita Talat-Kelpsiene. With a background in hospitality cleaning and owning the commercial laundry company Edka Laundry and serviced accommodation business Edka Room, she is no stranger to business.
In fact, voted Rising Star in the SOAwards 2020 and runner-up in the 2020 LADAs, her businesses are known for their support to the hospitality sector.
We use Facebook and Instagram to reach holiday let, serviced accommodation and Airbnb hosts in the local area of the New Forest. And for those further afield, we have used Facebook and Google Ads to promote our e-learning course Housekeeping Essentials for Hospitality.
But what happens when that channel is suddenly no longer available, in fact, non-recoverable?
Our digital photo album of cherished personal memories and a log of business growth is gone forever.
On the 23rd December 2022, Edita received an email saying that she had violated Facebook community standards with a request to provide her ID in order for them to investigate further. It appeared that her account had been hacked and inappropriate content was posted to her personal page.
Upon receipt of her ID, her personal Facebook page was blocked, and she could no longer access anything.
We rely on Facebook to record our most treasured moments, to give us happiness through memories and to help us keep in touch with friends and family from across the world. As you can imagine, this was really upsetting and unexpected.
Edita appealed this decision, only to discover her personal Facebook page had been blocked permanently and informed that they could not reverse this decision.
She had no access to own business accounts - any of them - and couldn't post an update to her page followers.
She then noticed suspicious activity on the Spotlight Hospitality Solutions page (posted as if from Spotlight Hospitality Solutions) selling leather jackets. Unfortunately, our social media team couldn't access the pages either and was unable to update our followers on the hacked page.
Hacked bank details stored on Facebook
When Edita checked her bank account for any suspicious activity, she found a number of transactions made through Facebook.
When running Facebook Ads, a credit card's details are saved to the business account, and it appeared that the scammers had accessed the card details linked to four of Edita's bank accounts, cleaning them of funds.
Luckily the bank reimbursed Edita for these transactions and cancelled the cards in time for Christmas.
Being blocked restricts any contact with Facebook Support, leaving her completely helpless in finding a resolution. We are still trying to make contact.
Edita's account has been permanently blocked and is hidden from any searches.
As a society, our reliance on social media is such a part of life that anything suddenly changed and taken has an awful effect on a person. For business, the hours and money spent promoting the business, growing the audience and getting known in the industry are almost wasted – without explanation from the leading social media giant (who coincidentally owns Instagram too).
The frustration in this experience is that we are left helpless and forced to start over again. Our Spotlight Hospitality Training page is still active (despite our asking Facebook to take it down).
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Going forwards, we are reviewing our marketing practices and will be refocusing our efforts on other routes, reducing our reliance on social media.
If you have experienced something similar, we’d love to know your story. Why not share this article on your page to spread the word?