Meta’s company-wide job cuts impacted the customer service team it had just started to build, leaving influencers and group admins grappling with scammers and technical difficulties, according to a report from CNBC.
CNBC says it spoke with former Meta employees and viewed documents filed with the US Department of Labor that indicate the company’s massive layoffs affected workers across Facebook and Instagram’s customer support, customer experience, and communities teams. Meta laid off 11,000 employees last November and cut an additional 10,000 workers in March.
Meta announced its plans to build a customer support team last year, with Brent Harris, Meta’s vice president of governance, stating the company was “spending a bunch of time” on it at the time. There was never a clear plan of what exactly the customer support team would do, but it seemed that it would at least assist users who were wrongly locked out of their accounts or had their posts removed.
The company also started testing a live chat support team to assist users with account recovery in 2021. It provided an update on this last December, stating it had grown the initiative to “more than a million people in nine countries” and that it planned to bring the test to over 30 countries. The company also said it would “double down” on “increasing support for people when they are locked out of their accounts” throughout 2023.
However, it’s unclear how much of Meta’s customer support team is still active. Several influencers and businesses who spoke to CNBC reported difficulties getting in touch with Meta support when dealing with a range of issues on its platforms. Meanwhile, group admins told CNBC they received a message in January that indicated Facebook would no longer offer dedicated support for groups.
When reached for comment, Meta pointed The Verge to some of the recent announcements it has made about user support, including a tool that helps users recover hacked Instagram accounts, its efforts to improve account security, and the expansion of its live chat feature.
Meta’s new $11.99 per month verification subscription may be part of the reason why it wants to cut back on free user support. One benefit of Meta Verified is that it lets users talk to a support agent about “common account issues.” That implies the vast majority of unpaid users won’t get access to that kind of support, which has remained a pain point for Meta for years. But if Meta is making massive cuts across its teams, that calls into question how large this support team for verified users will be.
The Oversight Board, the independent entity that helps Meta make content moderation decisions, says it received over 1 million appeals from when it first started accepting them in October 2020 through December 2021, signaling a huge demand for direct support from Meta. In addition, Meta reportedly punished dozens of employees last year for misusing the company’s automated account recovery tool to help customers desperate to regain access to their accounts.