Facebook Complaints Are A New Kind Of 911 Call In The Platform's Hometown From hacking to questionable ads to tech support, Menlo Park police dispatchers get calls about Facebook from all around the world.

Facebook Complaints Are A New Kind Of 911 Call In The Platform's Hometown

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Menlo Park, Calif., was a sleepy bedroom community until Facebook came to town. One unexpected thing Facebook has brought to Menlo Park is complaints from all over the world about Facebook. As Jake Warga reports, those complaints have become a distraction for the town's 911 service.

CHARLIE MANNING: 911 emergency.

JAKE WARGA, BYLINE: Menlo Park Police get a lot of calls they can't do anything about.

MANNING: A lot of people call and say that my account has been hacked. I want you to go and find who this person is that hacks my account.

WARGA: That's Charlie Manning, senior dispatcher for Menlo Park Police, where they take calls like this one...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Menlo Park Police.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes, I'm trying to get in contact with Facebook.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Is there support there?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: No, there's no support. You're going to have to make a report online.

WARGA: The police department has a direct business line that anyone can call, no matter where they are or how late it is. And at night, anyone who calls the number gets routed to dispatch.

MANNING: They're up late at night at 11 o'clock, and they're looking at Facebook. And they realize they've been hacked. Who are they going to call? They're going to call us. So it's almost like we're famous for having Facebook in our city.

WARGA: Facebook, the actual company and its flurry of new building construction, is physically located in Menlo Park. So say you think someone is breaking the law on Facebook, and you want to call the cops on them, like the nurse.

MANNING: She was an RN calling from, like, North Carolina. She didn't like that there were advertisements that were on Facebook - a product that you have to get by prescription only. And they were giving out free samples. And it was to grow your eyelashes.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Unintelligible), please.

MANNING: They feel it's an emergency because it's personally affecting their lives. They want action right then and there.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: 911 Emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: My business online and everything was hacked.

MANNING: It can be very devastating for that person. You know, you get teenagers that - the world is crashing in on them. And, yeah, I do feel sorry for them. I do. It calms them down as long as somebody has heard what's happening.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: I'm looking for the legal department because I need to see Mr. Z personally.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: And I need to have somebody to call him.

WARGA: And since people around the world have Facebook accounts...

MANNING: Some of them have accents, and they're really hard to understand because they call from all over, all over the world.

WARGA: This is Karen Salas, the other dispatcher on duty.

KAREN SALAS: I think a lot of people calling have this grandiose view of California to begin with. Facebook's here, and Facebook's big. So therefore, Facebook's giant. Then we must be big and giant, too.

911 emergency.

WARGA: A 911 call comes in while we're talking. Someone has parked illegally in a disabled space.

They try to make it clear to callers there's nothing they can do about your account. They can only direct you to instructions online to report your issues directly to Facebook. Facebook has responded to how it's changing Menlo Park. The company is paid for a community police substation and is helping the city pay for more police officers.

SALAS: 911 emergency.

WARGA: Another 911 call comes in for the same parked car in a disabled space.


WARGA: For NPR News, I'm Jake Warga in Menlo Park.


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