Fake Facebook Friends

facebookfriends A photographer friend of mine just told me that thousands of her photographs from   her blog have been copied and used to create a fake Facebook account.  Just days later several friends circulate a warning that identity thieves, because there is honestly no other way to describe them, are stealing images off of Facebook and setting up “dummy” Facebook accounts.   The warning reminds friends to pass it on and that if they get a second friends request that either their friend has developed multiple personalities or that it is a fake.   I think in most cases it’s probably a fake.

But why set up a fake Facebook account?  Why would you care to learn that a complete stranger’s Aunt Emmy is baking cookies today or that their nephew got a new dog?  Because you can find out all that mundane every day stuff and a whole lot more.

  • PC World reported on a story that the Taliban were using sexy profile photos and fake Facebook friends profiles to spy on Australian troops.  They also discuss how your next friend could be a spy.
  • Debt collectors have been caught with their hand in the friendship jar as they try to collect information to use to collect a debt, like announcements that you found a new job, received an inheritance or won the lotto.
  • Fake Facebook friends (zombies) are used to boost a business or service making them look to have a more successful social media presence that they really do.
  • And, believe it or not some single men and women set up fake Facebook accounts so they look like they have a significant other in their life. Maybe for some it’s a safety measure but let’s just say Manti Te’o isn’t the only one to ever have done it.

“You get a friend request from some chick in a bikini,” Howard, a lawyer with Morgan & Morgan P.A. in Tampa, Florida, told Bloomberg. “You say yes, and then somebody says ‘‘by the way, I’m a debt collector.”

Huffington Post reports that there are approximately 83 million “fake” or duplicate Facebook users making that 8.7 percent of all open accounts.

How can you tell the fake friends from the real thing?  Well, I can’t help you with that in real life but there are a few tips you can use to to test your friends before they become your “BFF.”

When looking at photos on a friends page, real people tend to tag about 1 in four photos while fakes will tag 100 times that number.

Fake profiles rarely, if ever update their status.  They simply create and account and then sit back and stalk their “friends.”  Thanks to the new algorithm with Facebook it’s harder than ever to tell which ones are updating on a regular basis because they don’t always show up in your status page.

Real people post more information about interest that fake profiles do.  Of course some fake profiles post interest after interacting with you so that you have more things in common.

Why should you be careful who you accept as a friend? 

I don’t think of every person I meet as a friend in the real world, why should I on Facebook.  If you are my friend it’s because I know you personally or have interacted with you in a  variety of different ways (conferences, groups, workshops or we have written for the same blogs or services).   A friend of a friend, even a friend of my husband’s, isn’t automatically accepted to my Facebook friends list.

It’s your internet reputation on the line.  Do you want to be known for being fake?

Personal information can be stolen from your account and from your friends.   Identity theft is a real purpose behind that theft and no one wants to apologize to their friend for that sort of social faux pas.

Your friends list because a new feeding ground for cyber targets.

Keep an eye out and know before you accept that friendly greeting on Facebook, is it a friend or a fiend?