Facebook is a social network consisting of more than a billion people. Some people on Facebook don't always have the best intentions. They can vet you for information, they can steal your identity or even ruin your reputation. How can you protect yourself from these criminals? We'll show you some ways to avoid getting cheated on Facebook. Read on!
Step 1. Understand why it is important to be able to spot a fake account
First of all, you have to understand that someone with a fake account is very likely to have criminal intentions. You don't want these people in your life, unless you're a criminal yourself.
- They will pretend to be a friend or someone with romantic intentions, but their only purpose is at best to play a prank and at worst to steal your money or belongings.
- It could also be that the impostor is out to steal your identity or valuable information with which to manipulate others.
Step 2. Never talk to strangers
Think twice before accepting friend requests from people you don't know or don't understand how they found you on Facebook. If you are not sure you can do the following:
Ask questions: Why do you want to be my friend? How did you come to me? Who are our mutual friends? If you click on their name you can check if you have friends in common. If so, you can contact that mutual friend. No mutual friends? Then watch carefully
Step 3. Do some research yourself
This can even be fun to do. You may find out that the person is not pure coffee. You can do the following things:
Step 4. Carefully read the information on the profile page
Does it sound believable or are there things that can never be right?
For example, maybe there is a photo on the profile of a very young person and at the same time the claim that the person is a PhD student. Trust your gut. It could be that someone is just innocently trying to glorify themselves, but it could also indicate a fake account. You can ask for proof if you want. He or she approaches you and not the other way around, so you are within your rights to find out if they are really who they say
Step 5. Look closely at the profile picture
Is there only one photo? Is it too perfect? Does it look retouched? Have you seen the photo before? A good photo or an edited photo doesn't have to be a bad sign, but someone might have taken a photo from Google to create an imaginary profile. Try the following:
- Drag the profile picture to your desktop.
- Open a new window on your browser and go to Google Images.
- Click on the camera icon on the right side of the search box. Choose "Upload an image". Choose the location of the profile picture (desktop) to upload it.
- Google uses facial recognition and other algorithms to recognize an image, you either find the image (with information such as a name), or images that resemble it.
Step 6. Enter the name that appears in Google and view the result
With a common name, this probably won't yield much, but it can provide some interesting information.
- For a common name, you can add other found information to the search, such as location or age.
- Has the person been tagged? A real person will probably be tagged here and there.
Step 7. Check out the friends
Does the person have local friends or friends all over the world? If someone only has local friends, it's much more likely to be a real person. Someone with friends all over the world and no local friends at all is suspicious.
The lack of local friends often indicates a fake account. This is often the case with profiles of (non-existent) attractive young women. It often happens that they connect with a phrase like "I saw your picture and you looked nice"
Step 8. Block the request
If you don't feel good with someone, there is a simple solution: don't reject the person, but block them immediately.
- Click on their Facebook name and go to the timeline. Click on the gear icon at the top right. Click on "Report/Block".
- You now have the choice to block someone or you can report the person to Facebook if you feel there is illegal activity.
Step 9. Set a "conditional period"
You expose yourself to accepting requests from fake accounts if you are in the habit of always accepting all friend requests just because they have the same taste in music, for example.
- Of course, this could lead to interesting friendships, but always try to find a mutual friend so you know it's okay. If that is not possible, you can at least be alert to strange behaviour, for example if you notice that the person is busy with you and your messages every day.
- If you don't know someone or hardly know someone, it would be normal for them to keep a little distance in the beginning, politely and carefully.
- If it doesn't feel right after a week or two, it's a good idea to delete them as a friend.
Step 10. Watch out for multiple fake accounts that are connected to each other
It used to be good enough to see if someone had an active group of friends. Then you were almost certain that it was a real account. Sadly that is now over!
- It is becoming more and more common for one person to manage multiple fake accounts and pretend to be a group of people just to make the accounts more believable.
- A good example of this is the case of Natalia Burgess, a woman who made many young men believe they were dealing with all kinds of young women - just because she wasn't getting enough love herself. Impostors like Burgess have a day job making fake accounts credible, including accounts on other social media and personal websites.
Step 11. Look closely for contradictions
There is always something in the web of lies that shows you that something is wrong. If someone has multiple fake accounts, this person will at some point get confused and start mixing up stories.
If you notice inconsistencies in answers to questions or in their comments, it's a good idea to record them and stay alert for more errors
Step 12. Be alert to claims that don't match the profile they've outlined
For example, if an adult pretends to be a teenager, they might say something about a historical event that they normally wouldn't know about. It is also possible that they know far too much about a certain subject, while that is not at all true with regard to other interests.
Keep a close eye on what the suspect is saying. Nobody is perfect, eventually they fall through the basket and then it may turn out that your feeling was right
Step 13. Always pay attention to declarations of love
It is always suspicious when someone says that you are in love when you hardly know the person in question and have never met them in person. Some people like to play with the feelings of others, some are especially in love with the idea of internet love and some are looking for money, sex or drugs.
- When someone declares their love for you on Facebook, ask yourself. Is it too fast? Is it strange? Does it give you the creeps? Trust your gut and remove the friend.
- If someone asks you for sexy photos, alarm bells should immediately ring. A fake account is often used to collect nude photos that then take on a life of their own on the internet.
Step 14. Delete them as a friend
If you don't trust the case or are not sure, always pull the plug. This is not about real friends or family and you can save yourself a lot of suffering.
Warn other friends if you know they are also friends with the fake account; one of the tactics is to befriend several people in the same circle to make it seem more believable
- Be careful what you put online and what you tell people you don't really know. Some people seem very caring until they have enough information and then they can start trying to blackmail you. Keep speaking in general terms if you barely know someone, never tell them anything that is private.
- Check the links they provide, for example to personal web pages and other social media. Check if the story is correct.
- Look for evidence of interacting with their friends outside of the internet. But keep in mind that too can be fake.