Over the last century, humans have advanced greatly in many areas of life. This is no different when it comes to technology. The advancements in the internet have led to an explosion of social media platforms which means that billions of people are now accessing things like Facebook every day. With these advancements however, come certain dangers and it is important to learn how to spot things such as fake or fraudulent Facebook accounts.
What is social media?
Social media platforms are computer based technologies which enable the creation and sharing of information, ideas, careers, interests and other forms of expression through virtual societies, communities and networks. Examples of these include things like Facebook and Instagram.
What are some of the dangers faced on social media?
Social media platforms such as Facebook allow you to connect with various people, businesses or organisations and exchange information in various ways. The key thing to remember is that on these platforms, you can interact with anyone, not just people you know. This gives people with bad intentions an opportunity to exploit vulnerable people by making use of things such as fake Facebook accounts.
Why is it important to spot fake Facebook accounts?
Generally speaking, anybody that uses or creates a fake Facebook account, is a con artist. In other words, they are trying to deceive someone for some reason and you therefore usually wouldn’t want someone like this in your life. Although these people might present themselves as friends or love interests, there actual intentions are often much more sinister. They may be after things such as money, goods or even your identity and valuable information to use to manipulate other people or situations. On the other hand, they may just be doing it to play a ‘harmless’ mind game. One thing is clear however and that is that you as a Facebook user would want to be able to identify these Facebook profiles to prevent them from interfering in your life.
How do I spot a fake Facebook account?
Don’t talk to strangers:
If you are not familiar with someone, it is probably best not to speak to them or accept their friend requests or at least, ask think about it. Ask them questions such as “why do you want to be my friend?” or “where did you hear about me?” to get a better idea of who the person behind the other account is and what their intentions are. You can also click on their name to see if you have any mutual friends and if you do, contact your friends to ask them about the person sending the request. If there are no mutual friends however, it is a huge red flag and you should proceed with caution.
Become a private investigator:
In other words, do a little digging. Not only is it a bit of fun, it is also a useful way to find out about the person sending the friend request. Things you can do during your investigation include:
Reading the profile carefully:
Does what the person is saying add up or is it all a bit too fantastic or out of this world. For example, someone claiming to live in one place but most of their pictures are from somewhere else. Check out other things such as: is there only one profile and how many pictures they have. You can even drop their pictures into Google and do a search to see what it brings up.
Trust your instincts:
That gut feeling you have about someone is often a good guide when considering their request. Furthermore, they are approaching you so don’t be scared to ask questions or for proof of something that they have said or claim.
Search their name online:
Put their name into something like Google and see what comes up. Does it match what has been said on their Facebook profile (pictures, work, etc.)? If not, that is another major red flag.
Check their friends:
Are their friends local or international? A scarcity of local friends (where they stay) is usually a red flag as well and a good indicator that the profile is fake.
Beware of interconnected faking
When you are investigating their friends, it is important to bear in mind that interconnected faking may be taking place. This is where a group of individuals work together in order to make fake profiles seem more legitimate.
I’ve investigated. What do I do now?
So, you have conducted your investigation and are as sure as you can be whether the profile is fake or not. If you believe it to be real then you may choose to accept the request. However, if your gut is now telling you that it is fake and you don’t have a good feeling about them then don’t just reject the request but block them as well. You can also navigate to their timeline and block them from messaging you. If you feel that they are a threat or involved in illegal activities, report them to Facebook so that they can investigate.
Social media and things like Facebook are wonderful and beneficial tools to people. There will however always be people with bad intentions. It is therefore important that we can identify these people in order to prevent them from having a negative impact on our lives. The most important thing to remember when you are online is to trust your gut.