7 On Your Side: Local holiday light spectacular short-circuited by Facebook hack

Nina Pineda Image
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Local holiday light spectacular short-circuited by Facebook hack
A family who lights up their neighborhood during the holidays ran into major Facebook frustrations. 7 On Your Side has ways to safeguard your social media accounts.

UNION BEACH, New Jersey (WABC) -- It's becoming a common frustration - getting locked out of a Facebook page that was high-jacked by a hacker.

One New Jersey family, who literally light up their neighborhood's holidays, had their page taken over.

But after asking for help from politicians and local papers, they made a Christmas wish to Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.

It may be two weeks after Christmas, but every night at the Gress house is still like Christmas Eve.

Every night, since the start of December, the Union Beach home is ablaze with 300,000 twinkling lights and more than 500 holiday decorations, including 100 snowmen, lining every inch of their front yard.

"We have chaos here, Christmas chaos, but I love it," Brandon Gress said.

And weeks after the holidays, the crowds still gather.

"It's exciting for them to come even after Christmas," Gress said.

It's been this way for the past decade. Gress, a teacher, goes Christmas crazy -- starting in the summer he shops for new festive figures and sets up the lawn light show in September.

"I have a good crew people to help me out," Gress said.

The power plant to build excitement and awareness is a high-wattage community Facebook page. It also helps him raise money for their local charity, the Children's Specialized Hospital.

"It's a way of saying - here's what we're doing for charity this year, here's how you can help us," Gress said.

But last September the plug was pulled on their Facebook page.

Neither Gress nor their 10,000 followers could access their page. But he said he couldn't get Facebook to fix it.

"The whole situation was infuriating because there's nobody you can speak to one on one at Facebook," Gress said.

7 On Your Side first contacted Facebook last October. They offered tips to hack-proof your account:

First pick a strong and unique password - not one you've already used. Next, use two-factor authentication which gives you an extra layer of security. And sign up for alerts to text you if someone else is logging into your account.

Then after virtually dozens of texts, emails and calls from us to Facebook - the switch was flipped.

"Oh my goodness, it's back, we're back, that was an moment," Gress said.

The Gress House Holiday Light Spectacular Facebook page, the lights and the crowds were back online.

"I'm so grateful, forever grateful to you guys for what you were able to do," he said.

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