Facebook is the OG of all social media platforms. It is the most popular social media platform, with 2.9 billion monthly active users. According to Forbes, this tech giant is one of the most valuable brands (along with Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) with huge revenues.
Facebook is on top of the game because it has every kind of user. It is the best place to market your business, raise your voice, or just have fun.
If you love using Facebook to make new friends, you must have encountered people whose profiles seem ingenuine to you. Then the dilemma of fake Facebook accounts is a tale as old as time. These people are thieves — who steal people’s identities to achieve their goals (sometimes dangerous ones).
Unfortunately, there is no way to find out who is behind a fake account on Facebook without tricking them. The only way to reveal them would be to trick them into revealing their IP address. But, this helps you only in getting their location.
There are some ways to determine if an account is fake, though. You can determine whether a profile is fake by looking at the profile picture, about section, profile link, timeline, posts, tags, photo albums, check-ins, and friends’ list. You have to be quite a detective.
Fake profile owners can scam, threaten, harass, and even steal your identity. If you want to figure out ways to identify these accounts to avoid any communication with them, keep reading! In this article, we present DIY methods to identify fake accounts.
The Fake Profiles Dilemma on Facebook
Fake profiles are the menace of social media, which is getting more severe every day. According to research, around 5% of profiles on Facebook are bogus. It means 145 million out of 2.9 billion monthly active users are fake. There are many motives behind these fake accounts, and one of the motives is to scam.
Besides, some want to avenge you by making a fake profile. Similarly, some make fake accounts to get more followers, promote something, or fool others (Celebs fake accounts). Some fake profiles are just college pranks, e.g., a guy pretending to be a girl on Facebook and luring others in the college to become friends and get embarrassing stuff from them.
Let’s suppose that you get a friend request on Facebook from your friend with whom you have lost contact. You accept it, talk to that person, and disclose everything about yourself and your life. Somehow, you realize the person has got chattier than before, even asking personal questions.
You are being naive and start sharing your personal information with them, including your pictures and everything about your life and job. One thing leads to others — the person eventually asks for money, you give them, and he vanishes in thin air. Bam! You are scammed!
Worse scenario, if they ask you to click on the links they share — you do that to find that it was nothing. Well! Technically it was not nothing, as by clicking on these links, you have loaded malicious software on your devices without even knowing. The scammer has hacked your device and now has full access to all your data (including financials).
The hacker has stolen your identity. He has all your information, which he can use to get loans or credit cards in your name or further scam others. Besides, with all your information, the scammer can cyberbully, defame, harass or threaten you.
Methods To Figure Out Fake Accounts on Facebook
Fake Facebook profiles are dangerous, and if you do not employ due diligence, there will be severe ramifications. So, next time you accept any friend request from an unknown, try to keep things we discuss in your mind (instead of believing everything like a fool lamb).
Profile Picture Analysis
Never judge a book by its cover — well, in this case, you have to. The first giveaway of a fake account is its profile picture. Usually, accounts with profile pictures of celebrities are phony (unless it’s a celebrity fan account). If it is not claiming to be a celebrity fan account or page, instead proclaiming themselves as Zendaya or Harry Styles, these are fake profiles.
The problem is not all accounts will be as straightforward. Some accounts might have pictures of other people taken from other social sites. Here, you need to tread carefully.
You can use reverse image searches on Google image search to spot the origin of any photo used by any profile. All you need to do is copy the account’s profile image and paste it into a Google image search. The Google image search will show all the sources where you can find the image and images similar to your suspect from other angles.
If the result shows the profile photo of the suspect used under different names in different places, you have got a scammer. In this way, you can also upload your pictures on Google image search and find out who has been misleading people by using your images.
Also, look at the previous profile pictures of the account you want to investigate. If their profile pictures album has only pictures of random people or stuff instead of their own, they are fishy.
About Section analysis
A genuine profile has detailed information about the person, if not detailed, at least where they studied or worked. About section gives away a lot of necessary information about a person, including the places they have recently eaten and the company they worked for.
Fake accounts usually leave the about section empty or write weird things.
If the information in the about section is in a pattern, these accounts are mostly fake. Below is a bogus bio showing a pattern; Phoebe Buffay, Lives in New York, Studied at New York University Works at New York Coffee. It has a phony written all over it!
Profile Link and Profile Name
If the profile name and link do not match or are totally opposite — know it is a fake profile.
Let’s take an example, a person named Ross Geller (sorry for my constant ‘Friends’ references) made his profile under his name and got hacked or decided to use it for other purposes. Now, the person changes the profile name to Rachel Green with Jennifer Aniston’s picture to scam vulnerable or spread hate.
Apparently, the profile name and picture are different, but the profile link will have the old name Ross Geller on it. It is because Facebook does not allow a person to change profile links or usernames for a specific time.
If you encounter such accounts, avoid them because they are fake 100%.
Timeline and Posts
A timeline is a major giveaway as users share every activity on their timeline. Some people share funny jokes, videos, music, and other fun stuff on their timelines. If the timeline consists of promotional posts only, including links, then it is fake.
Similarly, check out the posts of any account you find dubious. If you see many likes and comments from random people (mainly girls with flattery comments), and nobody replies back, it’s a fake account. Besides, excessive likes also come from bots-controlled accounts. Moreover, a post-free account might also be a fake account.
Photo Albums and Tags
A genuine Facebook profile has a photo album full of pictures of the person with friends and family. Similarly, an authentic Facebook account also has users tagged by friends on group photos or lunch out. Fake profiles do not have them.
Fake profiles usually consist of pictures of random people or no pictures or the same picture in the photo album. Similarly, you will rarely find any tagged posts in fake accounts.
Likewise, a genuine Facebook user must have checked in somewhere to eat or drink or shop. If an account does not have any check-ins, they are most likely a fake account.
Lastly, fake accounts tend to have hundreds or even thousands of friends on their friends’ lists. Sometimes friends from different countries (this diversity does not make sense as the person does not seem hip). Besides, fake profiles sometimes also lock their friends’ lists.
Report Facebook immediately if you find your fake Facebook account. The Facebook team will contact you within 72 hours to ask for your identity verifications. Then, it will delete all bogus accounts under your name.
Can You Find Out Who Made the Fake Facebook Account?
We have already told you how to distinguish a fake profile from a genuine Facebook profile, but now the big question is, can I know the real person behind the fake account?
The answer is no. Facebook does not share the IP address of the person who has made a fake Facebook account. You can never know the person’s real identity unless they themselves reveal it, or somehow you grab their IP address by tricking them. With an IP address, you can find their location.
This process is not as easy as it sounds, and it only reveals the location, not the person’s identity.
You can figure out if a Facebook profile is fake by looking at the profile picture, about section, profile name and link, posts, tags, timeline, photo albums, check-ins, and friends’ list.
There is no way you can find the person’s true identity behind it. You can protect yourself from identity theft, cyberbullying, or scams of any sort if you exercise due diligence.