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Locked Out: Small businesses owner shares experience with Facebook to warn others

<i>WLOS</i><br/>A small business owner in Asheville said she's sharing her recent experience with Facebook to warn other small businesses.
A small business owner in Asheville said she's sharing her recent experience with Facebook to warn other small businesses.

By Caitlyn Penter

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — A small business owner in Asheville said she’s sharing her recent experience with Facebook to warn other small businesses.

“Facebook would have never told me anything had the SBI agents not followed up,” said Jazmine Whitmore, owner of More To Love Consignment and Those Lovely Locks in Asheville.

She said she got locked out of her personal Facebook account in December and that it’s led to a stressful chain of events.

“It’s rough, it’s really disheartening,” said Whitmore.

She said when she got locked out of her personal account in December it locked her out of every business page linked to her account on Facebook and Instagram.

“When I opened my Facebook it said that I had been suspended for three days and that I had shared an inappropriate picture of a child,” Whitmore said. “I appealed immediately.”

Whitmore said she tried to tell Facebook she didn’t share any inappropriate pictures.

“No response, no response; I waited two weeks, sent more emails, I mailed physical letters to Facebook,” she said.

Then two weeks later, Whitmore started seeing charges to her business checking account: $800 first then $1,000.

She said Facebook refunded that money randomly, with no explanation of what was going on.

“I was at the shop and I got a call from my partner that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) had visited our home,” Whitmore said.

She said finally more than one month later, while still locked out of her accounts, Whitmore found out what happened from the North Carolina SBI.

“I called them up and I was like, ‘oh my god, do you know what happened?’ And they’re like, ‘yes, you were hacked. They uploaded 49 explicit and illegal images to your profile in a minute.'”

Whitmore eventually got one of her business pages back. She still doesn’t have access to her personal Facebook page, her other business accounts, as well as a business Instagram account.

Whitmore added that she’s spent $3,600 in Facebook and Instagram ads for her businesses over the years.

“I do feel entitled to some sort of ad credits, some sort of something to help me rebuild my following that was completely demolished,” she said.

Whitmore said her treatment by Facebook is ironic considering her history with them. “Facebook gave me a grant because I’m a small Black business and now Facebook has cost me more than the grant they gave me and they still don’t seem to even care,” she said.

News 13 has reached out to Facebook multiple times about this with no immediate response.

The SBI told News 13 they did look into this due to an initial inquiry on a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

However after they talked with Whitmore, the SBI said there was no evidence to substantiate a criminal act associated with Whitmore and there was insufficient information to further the investigation.

“My business Instagram gone like and I don’t even get an apology,” Whitmore said talking about Facebook.

Whitmore said this is her advice to other businesses online:

Don’t link your accounts. Have another admin on your business pages in case you get locked out. Make a copy of your profiles.

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