Facebook has created a social network of over a billion people. Some of these people don't have the best of intentions towards their fellow human beings. They can search for you for information, to steal your identity, or even to destroy your reputation. How can you protect yourself from these predators? Rest assured, there are a number of ways you can do this and protect yourself and your family.
Step 1. Why is it important to spot a fake account?
First and foremost, someone with a fake account is - almost by definition - a scammer. Unless you're one of them too, you probably don't want someone like that in your life.
- While they may pose as friends, or even potential romantic encounters, their sole purpose in sending you their friend list request may be as harmless as a simple game, or they may be. looking for much more, such as your money, possessions, or property.
- The impostor could also manipulate you to steal your identity or important information that he can use to manipulate someone else.
Step 2. Don't talk to strangers
At the very least, think twice before accepting friend list requests from people you don't know or with whom you don't have a legitimate and verifiable connection. If you are not sure, do the following.
Ask them questions: why do you want to be my friend? How did they find you on Facebook? What friends do you have in common? By clicking on their name, you can see if you have any mutual friends. If so, contact your friends. Otherwise, this is a big red signal
Step 3. Do a little detective work
At worst, it can be fun. You might also find that your so-called friend isn't doing any good. Here's how to sniff out clues.
Step 4. Read his profile carefully
Does what he claims to be show up or do you find information that is hard to believe?
For example, maybe there is a photo of a very young person next to a claim to be a professor or CEO. Does the embellishment look a bit forced and hardly believable? Trust your intuition on this point. You might even ask for evidence on some of the points that person has stated, they are the ones that are approaching you after all. You have the right to ensure that their request is legitimate
Step 5. Check their profile picture
Is there only one? Is it too perfect or does it seem touched up? Have you seen it before? A good photo - or a retouched photo - doesn't have to be a bad sign, it could mean that they Google searched for a nice photo and thought no one would notice.
- Click and drag the profile picture to your desktop.
- Start Google Chrome or Firefox, and go to Google Images.
- Drag the photo into the search box, it will enlarge, like in the following photo.
- Google uses facial recognition and other algorithms to find a matching image, and will either return an exact match (with information such as name) or images similar to the original.
Step 6. Search their names online to get results
It won't be very useful if their name is fairly common, but for a less trivial name there could be some interesting results.
- If they have a common name, add other information such as their address, age, or any other information you can glean from their profile.
- Have they been tagged? A real person is usually tagged here and there, part of the experience of sharing on Facebook.
Step 7. Check their friends
Do their friends live in the same region or all over the world? The more local friends that person has, the more likely they are to be real. If she has friends who live all over the world, with very few or no local friends, start to be suspicious.
The lack of local friends suggests that you are dealing not with a real person, but with a fake account. This is often used by people who claim to be attractive young women. More often than not, they will contact you by writing something like “I saw your picture and you are very cute”
Step 8. Block the request
If you have a bad feeling about someone, there is a very simple solution: don't just decline the request, but block them altogether.
- Click on their name on Facebook and go to their news feed. On the right, under the cover photo, click the settings icon next to the Message button.
- You can block them and prevent them from contacting you, or you can report them to Facebook if you feel they pose a threat or are involved in illicit or illegal activity.
Step 9. Create a probationary period
If you have the (not very good) habit of accepting add requests from friends of friends, or sending add requests to people who seem to have similar tastes to yours when it comes to music, cooking, dancing or whatever, you expose yourself to possible fake accounts.
- While you can make great connections this way, always try to have someone you know who can vouch for that person. And if that's not possible, watch out for signs of weird behavior, such as suddenly bombarding with likes, comments, photos, etc. daily.
- If you barely know this person, they should start off gently and politely, and not invade your space immediately.
- If after a week you don't feel comfortable with your new friend, delete him!
Step 10. Watch out for fake interconnected accounts
At one time, it was reasonable to think that if someone has a group of friends communicating with each other and vouching for each other, that person must have been real. This is no longer the case !
- There are a growing number of cases of a single person with multiple fake Facebook accounts claiming to be several different people, each vouching for the other, and all trying to befriend someone. 'one of real!
- A prime example is the case of Natalia Burgess, who has woven a web of deception and cheated on many young men with her various accounts, all because she didn't feel loved the way she should have been. Unfortunately, imposters of this sort take enormous proportions to create a network of fake accounts including accounts on other social networks and websites to make their fake persona appear real.
Step 11. Find and note any inconsistencies
If you are the target of an elaborate network of lies, it will eventually start to unravel. This is much more obvious to someone who is trying to maintain multiple fake Facebook accounts at the same time, and eventually will get tangled up and mix up their stories.
If you notice this in their answers to certain questions or in their comments, keep it in mind and be on the lookout for other mistakes
Step 12. Take a break
You should do this if that person says something weird or inappropriate. For example, if an adult pretends to be a teenager, they may be saying something that can place them temporally when they refer to an event or historical figure that teenagers are unlikely to know about. Or he knows too much about a subject that a person like the one he claims to be might not know.
Take note of everything the suspicious individual says because everyone is wrong! No one is perfect, and sooner or later they will eventually say something that will trigger your ears and give you comfort in your intuition
Step 13. Use caution
Be truly on guard with fiery declarations of love, affection, and romance. If someone you've never met, who lives thousands of miles away from you and who has barely spoken of falls in love with you, be vigilant. Sometimes impostors do this because they like the feeling of playing with someone else's life and feelings. Often times, this is because they enjoy virtual romantic relationships and they are afraid to reveal their true self (or they already have a relationship in real life). Other times it will be because they are looking for something, like money, sex or drugs.
- Consider your own feelings and motives if you start to feel something for the person who declares that they like you on the internet. Is it too sudden? Too weird? Too strange? A little fishy? Trust your feelings and delete this fake friend from your Facebook account.
- If they ask for sexy photos, be alert right away. A fake account is a good bait to obtain free pornographic material which will then circulate on the internet.
Step 14. Delete them
If you have any suspicions, are unsure or uncomfortable having them among your friends on Facebook, be done with it. It's not like they're real friends or family that might cause you a lot of trouble in the future.
Notify your friends on Facebook if you know that they have also added this fake account; one of the techniques of an impostor is to add other people in your circle of friends to try to make the friendship seem more real
- Be careful what you post and what you say to strangers. Some people seem very caring until they've collected enough information about you, then turn their backs on you, and blackmail you. If you don't know the person, no matter how friendly you have been on the internet together, keep your information private and keep the conversations very general.
- Look for evidence of communication with their Facebook friends. Keep in mind, however, that this too can be wrong if they have multiple Facebook accounts.
- Check all the links they put directing to personal sites, social media pages, etc. to help you check that everything matches.
- Keep in mind that if someone is using a fake account to seek money, property, or personal information, they may be trying to harm you as well. This is why it is extremely important to be discreet with your interlocutors to protect your personal safety.
- Watch your teens. Young people are the most exposed to building virtual relationships with people who do not exist. They fall in love with the image of the perfect person and the impostor pleasures his own satisfaction or others.
- Read how to unmask a fake Facebook account if the impostor stole your identity.