Following the recent high profile revelations of the way Facebook users’ personal data has been manipulated to influence voting behaviour, you may be feeling a little of wary of Facebook at present. Are its security measures sufficiently robust? How does it take action if people flout its terms of service?
One policy that Facebook has been big on from the very beginning is the one user/one profile policy, meaning that in order to maintain a Facebook profile, users must use their real names and must maintain just one profile. In reality, Facebook has admitted to having at least 170 million fake profiles on its site. If Facebook allows them to stay active, is there anything you can do about it?
There are many reasons why people might create fake Facebook profiles. Some people have innocent reasons of doing so, others do not. Fake Facebook profiles have been increasingly used for cyberbullying and harassment. These fake profiles are also linked to romance frauds, stalking behaviours, and other sorts of cyber-crime.
Signs that a suspicious profile may not be real
If the profile you are suspicious of looks like it is from someone you know, but they appear to be behaving erratically – saying strange things, or sending abusive messages – this would usually be a red flag. If a profile is of someone you think you do not know who tries to ‘befriend’ you, check out their profile to see if it looks plausible:
Is the photo too perfect?
Do they look surprisingly young and attractive? Or like their face has been airbrushed with photo-editing software? Use Google’s reverse imaging search to find out if the image comes from elsewhere on the web.
Are the claims outlandish?
Is this someone who looks to be a teenager but claims to be a surgeon or university professor?
Are any of their friends or interests local to them?
A fake profile will collect friends from across the globe, but have few in localised areas and will have no family or evidence of engagement in local groups.
If you come across what you believe to be a fake profile, use Facebook’s reporting system to try to get it taken down. If it has been used for illegal practices, you can also seek legal redress. If you want to learn more about how to deal with these sorts of Facebook fakes, and more complex cases, download our ‘How to Trace a Fake Facebook Account’ eBook now.