In our digital world, the first thing people do when gaining an understanding of technology and, most of all, the internet is to establish themselves on social media. Typically that would initially be Facebook.
The primary reason for these accounts is because they’re free. So individuals don’t feel there’s an issue if they produce a few profiles to interact with different groups of people.
It is true. There are indeed people who develop a different persona depending on the groups they belong to, believing that doing so is harmless as long as no one is getting hurt.
It allows them to play different parts in different social circles, promote small companies, share collectibles based on who they talk to, and so much more.
When looking at it from a different point of view, some people use fake profiles to hurt other people. That’s where significant problems develop and reason for the social sites to help users recognize when they’re dealing with an imposter, trying to find out who is behind the accounts, plus let the public know they are doing what they can to crack down on these incidents.
Who is the person behind a fake Facebook user?
The best way to see if someone is using a fake identity on Facebook is by finding their online accounts on social media sites. You can do that by username or the full name of the user behind that page.
In reality, if this were so easy, Facebook representatives would have many people in the legal system for fraud. The suggestion is that the behavior is common, especially among people who want to find out if a partner might be cheating, someone who wants to track their ex and their activities, and for bullying purposes.
There are so many unsavory purposes, not all are negative, but there are many. These individuals are intelligent; they would need to be in order to create a false identity without recognition, understanding exactly how to get away with the behavior, so they don’t get found out.
That’s incredibly important because they realize the dire consequences they face should they ever get caught. It means for you and me that the average Joe is not going to find out who these individuals are behind the mask; it will take someone with digital prowess to get the person’s identity.
Steps to identify a Facebook account as fake
Facebook users were estimated at nearly 2 billion for the year 2021. With the social site assessing that there were likely 10% of that number responsible for making false profiles or duplicating one. Millions of others are, of course, addicted to social media.
The platform consistently makes efforts to identify the individuals behind what they recognize as imposters. Still, their concerted effort is a significant uphill battle since identifying the people behind these tactics is challenging to say the least.
Everyone, including authentic users, is explicitly concerned since no one knows who can be trusted to respond to since many users complain they are having fraud committed against them by people misrepresenting themselves on the site.
Typically, the reason for making these profiles is to attempt to promote a business that genuinely doesn’t exist for fraudulent purposes. Or to in some way spy or stalk someone without their knowing they are being watched on the site.
A genuine user will share their day-to-day life, experiences, activities, or even just random thoughts with everyone, which these individuals hope for. Fake individuals generally don’t post except to promote a single idea in some way.
If you pay close enough attention when you get a “friend request,” you can tell the person is not legitimate. Let’s look at a few pointers.
1. Look closely at the photo
The very first thing people look at when they get a friend request from another user is the profile photo. If you really look at this picture, it will reveal whether the person is authentic or an imposter. Some helpful hints to make it more evident to you:
A solo photo that never changes: Someone who is quite active on the platform will change their profile photo often because they’re on the site usually. If you notice this individual never makes any changes, that’s a red flag, especially if the account is more than a few years old.
A celebrity as their photo of choice: We all are fans of someone in the celebrity genre, but not many people will post only pictures of that celebrity as their profile shots—another sign for you to watch for.
Invisible to the public: It’s alarming when there’s no photo whatsoever. Anyone and everyone enjoys posting pictures of some sort to share with their close friends to make comments and share a laugh. You should not accept this person as a friend when there’s nothing.
A flawless glamor shot: No one uploads a photo for their profile that’s perfect. Everyone takes a selfie from a mobile that’s generally not the best but is authentic and natural. If you see a picture that belongs in a magazine, it’s not real.
When attempting to find out if the picture is genuine to the profile, the recommendation is to save the photo to your laptop so you can verify the image on Google. “Google Image Search” is a site that will take the data and alert you if there’s another person that carries that same photo.
2. Check out the “About” area
There is an “About” area in each user’s profile that tells you a bit of personal information. Many authentic users like to fill in details to share with their close friends. Some of which might include accomplishments, schools they attended, possible careers.
If this area is not completed, the person is not genuinely interested in their profile for those purposes. So, identifying someone with no real social accounts is not an easy challenge.
3. Look at the friends’ list
When you look at a fake persona, the friend’s list will tell. A real profile will show friends who are primarily local to the individual. If there are many people worldwide and very few who live near the person, it’s likely not genuine. There will be a language barrier if you’re from two different countries trying to have a conversation.
Also, females on Facebook keep their lists designated to intimate friends that they know personally and are very selective about who they allow in. If you see a female with thousands of friends, that’s not typical.
4. Glance over the individual’s timeline
Searching for all posts of someone on Facebook is not complicated. That can tell you if it’s a genuine or fake user. When an account is used for promotional purposes, you will notice that their timeline is strictly set aside for posts of varied website links with loads of different ads, which translates into a false profile.
Real users will post memes, stories about their day, photos of activities they’ve been involved in, videos, or music. If you don’t see a variety of everyday “stuff,” this person is not into Facebook for the right reasons.
Another suggestion is also to scroll through the history to see if there might be a shift in the content from one point to another since that’s another red flag they’re not legitimate.
5. When you see no interactions from friends to posts
The next thing to go through is the actual posts where people tend to “share,” “comment,” or “like” the various content. The way this will reveal a fake is if there are a ton of comments or likes. But the creator hasn’t responded to anyone’s comments in return.
Authentic users trade dialogue with their friends for a few lines to acknowledge their comments and give some feedback. The opposite is also true. If you see a friends list with hundreds of people, but no one or very few people react to any posts, that’s a sign that this person is not real.
You can always send a private message to someone you believe might be fake but who sent you a friend request just to see if they’ll respond to you. There will likely be no answer if the person is not real.
Numerous ways exist to call someone out for a fake account, but there’s genuinely no solid proof. You could be dealing with an older adult who doesn’t know how to take a selfie. So choose no picture, or their grandchild helps them upload one, and they never change it, the simple answer to that puzzle.
You could also be dealing with a male or female of any age who is exceptionally private and chooses only to share their personal “about” information in private messaging instead of listing all of their details for the whole platform to see.
There are indeed many logical answers for some of the red flags. Still, if you feel uncomfortable or have an instinct that something isn’t right, move past that person instead of accepting them as a new friend. There’s no rule saying we have to take everyone on as a buddy.
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One thing to remember, if you have sincere suspicions that someone is using the platform to defraud people or harm individuals in some way, it’s your responsibility to report this person to Facebook so there can be an investigation. Don’t let it go because other people will suffer the repercussions of your lack of actions.