Since we discovered in 2021 that California’s Attorney General Consumer Complaint form could help individuals and businesses escalate issues related to hacked Facebook and Instagram accounts to Meta Inc., the usage of the form has grown significantly. This method has seen success in the past, providing a glimmer of hope for those locked out of their digital lives. However, a significant shift has occurred in the California Attorney General’s response, affecting both U.S. citizens and individuals living abroad.
The office of the California Attorney General is now sending out a standard response to these submissions. This response clarifies the limitations of their role in such matters. Individuals reaching out for assistance with social media accounts are informed that the office cannot provide direct help restoring access to their accounts.
The response further explains that the office, governed by law, cannot represent individual consumers in legal matters. While they have the authority to bring lawsuits against violations of California law, this is done from a law enforcement perspective, representing the state’s populace rather than individual Californians. This is a vital distinction, emphasizing the office’s role in broader, state-wide legal issues rather than individual cases.
The full response a client of Hacked.com received while trying to restore their Facebook account was:
Thank you for contacting the Office of the California Attorney General regarding the loss of access to your Meta social media account.
We regret that we cannot provide you with direct assistance in restoring access to your account.
Our office is prohibited by law from representing individual consumers in legal matters. We do, within the limits of our resources, bring lawsuits for violations of California law in cases of statewide significance, but we do so as a law enforcement agency, representing the people of the state, rather than on behalf of individual Californians.
California Attorney General’s Office
We are aware of social media posts stating that Attorney General’s offices can intercede on your behalf with Meta and compel them to reinstate a disabled account, recover a hacked account, or restore access to a lost account. These posts are not authorized by any government agency and do not accurately reflect the role of attorneys general in the handling of consumer complaints.
The link to the form, https://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company, though still active, now serves a different purpose than what many hopeful users might expect. It’s a reminder that the digital realm’s complexities often extend beyond the reach of certain legal pathways.
This shift in the California Attorney General’s approach underscores a broader challenge in the digital age: finding effective means to address individual concerns in a landscape dominated by tech giants. As individuals and businesses navigate these complexities, understanding the limitations and roles of various legal and governmental bodies becomes crucial. The change also signals the need for more direct and effective channels of communication and resolution with companies like Meta, especially in cases involving account security and personal data.
Featured image made by Midjourney (AI) and Jonas Borchgrevink.