Stock image of a computer hacker
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A person hacked the social media pages of Northwest Dermatology Group and posted a racially insensitive message, making it look like it came from the doctor’s office.

Dr. Emily Levin, a Southfield dermatologist, couldn’t figure out why her cell phone kept vibrating during a recent patient visit. After the appointment, she grabbed the phone and saw she had several missed calls and messages. Each one informed her of a disturbing post found on the office Facebook and Instagram pages.

Someone hacked the social media pages of Northwest Dermatology Group and posted a racially insensitive message, making it look like it came from the doctor’s office. The post was made on Instagram, and simultaneously appeared on the practice’s Facebook page.

It said, “We get it. We understand you people. Can we move on, please? This is draining.”
Levin also received an email from Instagram, letting her know her password had been changed. A separate email revealed the identity of the person who changed the account. She recognized the name: a former employee.

The doctor immediately removed the posts, changed the password and contacted local and federal authorities. An investigation is under way, and a suspect identified.

Dr. Emily Levin Courtesy of Northwest Dermatology Group

Although the posts were quickly deleted, screenshots were shared hundreds of times. Dr. Levin, along with her partner, Dr. Ross Brothers, received death and bomb threats, and ominous messages promising the destruction of the practice.

Levin wrote a letter to patients, stating in part, “If you saw the false posts, please know that it wasn’t us; we don’t stand for hate speech or hate of any kind. We certainly don’t stand for racism.”

The office was flooded with calls. Patients voiced concern and support.

“My staff was overwhelmed and devastated,” said Levin. “This is not a reflection of who we are. We’ve always stood for social justice. We have been serving the black community and other minority communities for over 60 years, and we will continue to serve [them].”

In retrospect, Levin said the office lacked proper security policies and procedures, which led to the cyber-attack.

“We sincerely apologize to our community, our staff and our patients for that,” she said. “Everyone has been angered and devastated by this incident, and we are working to ensure this will never will happen again…

“We hope that others can learn a few lessons from this scenario. People need to realize how critical it is to have proper security, policies and procedures in place. We also hope that people will investigate what is true before sharing or spreading something that could be harmful to anyone in your community. It’s crazy how one click of a button can harm a 60-year reputation.”

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