Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"How to Spot a Fake Facebook Account"

The number of fake accounts on Facebook is roughly the size of Egypt’s population and larger than most of the world’s countries, Facebook recently disclosed.

So how do you determine who is real and who is fake in your Facebook friend list?

It's great if you know your FB friends in real life, not so great if they live elsewhere and you can't find anything out about them. It's now possible however, to click and drag a FB image of someone you suspect as being fake and insert into Google Images which will then scan the photograph and throw up possible links to it.

Googling names and images are two ways to research. If they are fake then you might find the image popping up at lots of different websites, networking communities etc, using different names. Also if the person says they are a marathon runner or well known for something in particular, then there should be a link somewhere online for that. I, myself, have a high Internet profile as I've had books, articles and short stories published, so I'm easy to find. So if I tell someone I'm a writer, then they'll know if they Google 'Lynette Rees', that they're sure to find me.

Some other things to look out for are:

1. Does your FB friend have friends in their own community who message them on their wall and appear to know them personally? If not, they could be fake.

2. Do they have photographs of family and friends in their albums or are they just studio pics lifted from the Net and photographs of objects/places and nothing else personal? This doesn't necessarily mean they are fake, but it's more unusual and might be an idea to use the 'drag/drop' Google image option to suss them out.

3. Can you see evidence of your FB friend being tagged on nights out/events with friends and family? [Of course they might just choose to disable the tagging option!]

4. Often someone who has a false profile doesn't offer much information about themselves and when they do, often it doesn't tie in with their profile picture. For example they might word their information using terms a middle aged person might use, but then they post a profile pic of a young person.

Often someone who has a fake profile does so because they intend scamming you in some way. Recently someone added me as a friend, supposedly a female from the US, and I guessed straight away by the lack of info and 'her terminology' that 'she' was lying. So I chatted online to her and discovered she was a young man in Ghana lol! I also got his email address from him, Googled that and discovered he had scammed loads of people by pretending to be an American man. There were warnings about him all over the Net! He probably had his reasons for doing what he did, namely to extort money from gullible people, but a lot of people fell for it.

Sometimes Facebook fakers are scammers sitting in an Internet cafe in Lagos Nigeria or elsewhere pretending to be a war hero in Afghanistan and will lure a lady into an Internet romance by displaying an attractive photograph and lavishing lots of attention. Later they ask for money to get back home! People do fall for this and have lost their life savings as a result.

Beware as not everyone is who they appear to be. If after running checks you still aren't certain and you intend meeting your friend, then ask them to post a picture of themselves holding up a newspaper with that day's date on it. It won't necessarily mean they are trustworthy, but it will prove if their profile photograph is authentic or not.

Always bear this in mind...If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

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