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Locked Out of Facebook? There's a New Lifeline for You

The social media site is expanding a test of a live chat feature for people who are stuck.

Meta logo on a phone with Facebook thumbs up "like" reaction symbol
Meta owns Facebook and Instagram.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook has been testing a live chat feature to help users who are locked out of their accounts. Now the social network is planning to offer the option in more countries.

Guy Rosen, chief information security officer at Facebook's parent company Meta, said during a press call that the social network has seen "positive results" from the experiment. In October, the social network offered the live chat tool to more than 1 million people, he said. Facebook users can get locked out of their account for various reasons such as unusual activity or violating the social network's rules about posting content not allowed on the platform. 

Facebook has been testing a feature that allows users to live chat in English with an agent since December 2021. The company rolled out the experiment in nine countries, including in the US, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Rosen said the company plans to test the tool in more than 30 countries and some users will see the option when they go through steps to recover their account. Facebook didn't say how many users will be part of the expanded experiment.

The experiment is an example of how Facebook is focusing more on customer service. Facebook users have long complained about how tough it is to connect with a company employee especially when they get locked out of their account. Facebook started building a customer service division to help users who've had their accounts or posts removed unexpectedly, Bloomberg reported in August. Meta, which owns photo service Instagram, also launched a page where users can request support if their account was hacked or disabled. 

As Facebook looks at ways to offer customer service for its nearly 3 billion monthly active users, the social network also has to balance security risks. Scammers have pretended to be Facebook customer service in the past. Hackers posing as Facebook users could also try to dupe customer service agents to regain access to accounts they took over.

"This is a really important area for us and something we are carefully building," Rosen said.

One step Facebook users can take is to update any contact information such as their email, and phone numbers, he said. Facebook users are twice as likely to recover their accounts if this information is up to date, Rosen said.

But hackers will also try to break into social media accounts through platforms outside of Facebook such as email. In 2023, Rosen said, Facebook expects there to be a rise in "off-platform targeting attempts" to compromise social media accounts.