Fake profiles on Facebook and on social media are a problem most users face. These fake profiles are often used to commit cyber crime anonymously or with an untraceable identity. With the rapid growth of social networks, people tend to misuse them for unethical and illegal conducts, fraud and phishing.It,s definitely alarming that that there has been a 150 % rise in such cyber crimes in the last one year.It is very interesting that now-a-days many real world thefts have their roots in social media. Criminals are creating networks of fake profiles to target potential victims; as such connections allow them to uncover a variety of personal information about users and their whereabouts, making their homes an easier target. The cases of Cyber extortion have also increased owing to excessive personal data available in social networking profiles, and this data is accessible to fake profiles in your friend list.
With 1.44 billion monthly active users and potentially rich source of information, Facebook is one of the largest OSNs in the world. This popularity has also given rise to to the growth of a black-market industry that leverages the trust relationship inherent between the users in these OSN’s to offer illegal services like buying Facebook likes, comments and shares. All these malicious activities involve mass creation of fake accounts for effectively carrying out online attacks on the OSN’s. This makes detection of fake accounts on OSN’s an issue worth addressing which is the focus of our work.Compromised accounts and collusion networks are beyond the scope of our study.
What are Fake Profiles on Facebook?
Fake profiles on Facebook are categorized into what Facebook calls as duplicate accounts and false accounts.A duplicate account refers to an account maintained by a user in addition to his/her principal account.
False accounts are further broken down into two categories user-misclassified accounts and undesirable accounts. User-misclassified accounts represent the personal profiles created by users for a business, organization, or non-human entity such as a pet (Facebook,s terms of service permits such entities as a Page rather than a personal profile).
On the other hand, undesirable accounts are the user profiles that are intended to be used for purposes that violate Facebook,s terms of service, such as spamming. According to an internal review by Facebook on a limited sample of its accounts,approximately 4.3% to 7.9% of Facebook,s monthly active users represented duplicate accounts in 2013. In the same year, the number of user-misclassified accounts were estimated to be approximately 0.8% to 2.1% of the MAUs, while the undesirable accounts were estimated to be approximately between 0.4% and 1.2% of MAUs. Such estimates rely on judgments based on identifying names appearing to be fake or other inauthentic behavior.
Here are Five ways to identify fake profiles on Facebook.
1. Inspect the Profile URL
Have your doubts about a Facebook profile? Look up the URL of their Facebook profile. This is a known fact; customizing your Facebook public profile URL makes you easier to find. It’s a quick, easy way to differentiate you from all of the other facebook users out there. This is particularly important for those with common names. Everone does it, it,s for credibility.
There are loopholes in every crime and no scammer is perfect. Take a look at this recent post from Catherine Amelia. Catherine has a great proposal for her fellow members on an entrepreneur,s group on Facebook. She promises 3000$ in two days and you just need to ask her how. No joke!
Here,s how the post looks like.It will take a while before Catherine takes her post down. Well, that,s because scammers just don’t feel the need to wipe out evidence. They are far above cyber law anyways!!. If you want to take a quick look at her original post, here,s the link.
We at Viralify, decided to take a look at her profile. Everything seemed perfect. A great profile picture, a cover image, some few images of Catherine with her friends. And that,s when we noticed the URL…
Apparently, AbduRaman Aduhamad hasn,t figured out,as yet, how to change his profile URL. Gotcha!!
2. Inspect their like History
Mary Scott is a married self employed woman from California city and she loves to help. Well, at the least she can help you earn $$$$ ,and provided you have a smartphone or a Computer. Let,s see how that goes!
Here,s what her post looks like.
As usual, we looked up her Facebook profile URL. That ain,t you Mary. It,s Basavaraj Sudi. Wonder where he comes from!! Bummer!!
We decided to dig deep into Mary Scott AKA Basavaraj Sudi,s profile for his (or her,s) whereabouts. Scroll down the profile page and apparently, Mary Scott, a self employed married woman from California city likes Cinibuzz Kannada, a regional entertainment website in Kannada language and based out of India.She even loves Vijay Karnataka , a regional daily news paper from Karnataka, India.
Good for Mary! We ain,t being judgmental, but what are the odds!
3. Look up their friend,s list
So to give you an exposure to the real world and make new friends from every corner of the world, the only solution is social media sites and Facebook is the mightiest. But, Cooper Gloria, a Canadian National working as a mine Manager at Doctors of the World, USA , just isn,t just the perfect match. She is in a complicated relationship as well and here,s what her profile looks like.
So, what,s Cooper,s story? Cooper has been financially stable since the past six months. She simply “RAN INTO” into Simonsen, an expert trader on options trade; invested possibly in options trade; and has been making a living ever since. Wait, there,s more to it. Here,s the original post.
We had our doubts; but everything seemed perfect, including her profile URL.So,what,s the deal here? That,s when we looked up her friend,s list. Cooper Gloria, the Canadian, has forty-five friends and apparently all of them are from the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.
Well, Cooper could have made a trip to India, but adding forty five of her newly found friends onto her Facebook list.. Something, just ain,t right!!
4. Do a reverse image search
A reverse image search with tools such as Google image or tineye may not work at all times. This is because much of the fake profiles on Facebook are compromised accounts that are existing legitimate accounts taken over by an attacker.
Who creates fake profiles on Facebook?
Fake accounts are mainly used to unfairly increase ones power and influence within a target community . Online social networks have attracted various kinds of malicious activities and research community has offered number of solutions in the past to the problem. Facebook itself has come up with an immune system to address challenges owing to fake accounts by building classifiers. But,there are numerous works suggesting that it may not be solving the problem.
Spamming for the purpose of phishing, advertising and spreading malware is a common problem that has received a lot of attention. And then there are social bots which are computer programs that mimic real users and control. Advanced Cyber Forensic Tools and analysis of log files has made it possible to trace the real people behind fake profiles. Their names and addresses can be easily traced in order to take legal action against them.
What do do when you find fake profiles on Facebook?
When we come across fake profiles on Facebook, the first step is to report the same to Facebook.
Reporting an Abusive page on Facebook
- Go to the page you want to report
- Click the gear icon below the page,s cover photo
- Select Report Page
- Choose the reason why you want to report the page and click continue
Facebook will then review the reported material and remove anything that violates their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If warranted they also warn or disable the person responsible.
Report a fake account on Facebook that,s pretending to be you or a public figure
- Fake Timelines created to imitate real people (impostor accounts) are not allowed on Facebook. If someone created an account pretending to be you.
- Go to the Timeline
- Click the gear icon and then select Report
- Click Report this account
- Click This person is pretending to be me or someone I know and then complete the on-screen directions
- Click Submit to Facebook for Review
How to stay safe on Facebook?
There are many things you have control over that can help make your Facebook experience better for you. One easy step to check the privacy of information on your profile, is to take a Privacy Checkup that helps you review who you’re posting to, manage or delete apps you’ve connected to your account, and edit the privacy of information on your profile.
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into the ways you can control your information:
Control the posts you see from friends or family:
- If you Snooze a person, their content will temporarily be removed from your News Feed for 30 days. You can Unfollow someone if you no longer want to see any posts from an individual.
- If you want to see more of someone, you can add them to your See First list so their content appears at the top of your News Feed.
- Click on the three little dots in the upper right hand corner for more controls.
You likely have seen advertisements in your News Feed. Much of your information is utilized to show you more relevant ads.
Control the advertisements you see:
- Manage interests or information that isn’t relevant or that you don’t want Facebook using.
- Stop seeing ads based on the websites or apps you visit off Facebook .
- Understand why you’re seeing a specific ad.
You can also hide ads or an advertiser, or report an ad directly from each ad. All of these features can be found in the menu in the upper right corner of the ad, or in Ad Preferences in the Settings Menu. So that’s the content you see, but how about what you share — or in other words what people or companies can see about you?
It’s important to understand who sees your information and how you can control this.
Control what people see
Check your settings to control what past and future posts people can see, who can see your photos, friends list, timeline content, email and phone number. Each time you decide to share a post, you can select which audience you want to share with, including the public, all of your friends, only specific friends, or just you. You can check and edit the apps that have access to your information or that you’ve signed into. You can also remove the apps you no longer use. Use Facebook’s Activity Log to review your entire timeline and delete old posts. These features can be found and modified at any time in the Privacy Shortcuts under the Help Center icon or in the Settings Menu. So those are a few of the ways you can control your experience on Facebook .