Over last week, unknown to him, my best friend had a copycat profile set up. We were discussing ways of getting his own properties such as linked in etc appear for his name in the top 20 pages in google SERPs, and I asked him to do some research before we went ahead. Couple of hours later, he calls me and tells me someone has gone to the trouble of cloning his whole profile, and has been adding his current friends to that fake profile.
Now if I got a friend request from someone I already know is a friend on facebook, I wouldn’t approve them immediately, I would check the profile. Saying that, it’s not always easy to spot copycats that have done a decent job, and when you get a friend request, normally not a lot of detail is available. So it may pay to check and double check who is pretending to be your friend, especially if a “current friend” re-invites you to be a friend!
Why would someone clone my profile?
Many many reasons.
Spammer – there are a whole host of spammers on facebook now, who create loads f fake profiles and start spamming peoples walls. Some of these are quite sophisticated, after all if someone is your “friend” wouldn’t spam you, right? Right?
Malicious Social Hijacking – this is much much worse. Ex Girlfriends / Boyfriends, or simply someone who doesn’t like you. If this type of a personality creates a copy of your profile successfully, there is no limit to the damage that they can create on your personal life. AND your professional life as well. After all, your real friends think they are talking to you – all the while potentially revealing things they wouldn’t to a stranger.
What can I do about a Facebook Copycat profile?
1. Report it! There is a report button on facebook, which allows you to identify if the person is impersonating someone, as well as the ability to indicate who the person being impersonated is. I suggest you do that, as well as BLOCKing the profile. More Info on Facebook Rerporting (and link to the Facebook Quick Tips in the Help Centre).
2. Tell your friends. One report may not be enough to activate Facebooks spam team – but a few dozen may be. I advised my friend to email everyone he is friends with and explain the situation, and encourage more people to report the fake profile.
PRO TIP: Dont Display your email addresses.
Although facebook asks you to verify your email address, it doesnt stop the account from being used. (Arrington proved this). This would reduce the possibility of your account being easier to create and share as demonstrated by Arrington – however wont stop someone who already has your email details.
Will Facebook Take The Fake Profile Down?
Most probably. How long the rocess will take is uncertain, but if many people report it, they will action. Will update this page when that happens.
If you feel that you would want to take things a bit further, you can report the copy to the police, especially if you suspect severe malice.
- Forbes Blogger Gets Impersonated
- The Law on Impersonating Someone on Facebook
- Facebook Copyright Policy
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile