WASHINGTON (WDVM) — According to PR Newswire, 77 percent of United States small businesses use social media to facilitate key business functions. As hacking rises, those business owners have to be extra careful with their information.

One District business owner, Sarah Albert, found herself a victim of cyber fraud during May. She is the founder of an art business, Sarah Paints Rappers, and uses an Instagram account as the core of her business model. She said, “It’s crazy because it’s social media, but that’s the day and age we’re in.”

The art started as a hobby for Albert, but turning her art into a business saved her during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in May 2022, her account was hacked. She explained, “Someone had taken all access to my accounts. They were posting fake things to my accounts. They were messaging all of my contacts about fraudulent, like pretending to be me and getting their info.”

The hack cost her more than two weeks of income. In the meantime, she found a job waiting tables and had to create a new account. All the while, she never got a reply from Meta, the company which owns Instagram. She said, “There’s no chats. They don’t respond to a single email. They don’t have a phone number to call. I think it’s irresponsible as a giant company.”

Cyber security experts tell WDVM that right now there is no legal responsibility for social media giants, though the companies market themselves with messaging that says user privacy is number one. David Chow with Trend Micro said, “There has been more attention paid, by Congress, wanting to know how the likes of Facebook, is protecting the privacy of average citizens, and that’s a real concern.”

It is a concern that business owners like Albert have, but with no other option in her business model, is something that has to be dealt with. She said, “I don’t want to use Instagram anymore, but it’s how I market my business, so I’m using it again.”

Albert is adding new ideas to her business, such as pop-up events at local bars and restaurants, where people can send her pictures on site that will quickly turn into paint by numbers. The first of these events is happening Thursday, June 8, at Dacha Navy Yard starting at 6 p.m.