Fake Friends and Followers on Social Media – and How to Spot Them


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One of the biggest threats to watch out for on social media is fraud perpetrated by people who are not who they say they are. Here’s how to recognize them.

Fake Friends and Followers on Social Media – and How to Spot Them

Some 4.5 billion people in the world, almost 55 percent of the world’s population, have at least one account with one of the major players. And internet users around the world spend around two and a half hours every day reading the news, sharing stories and exchanging photos on their social media platforms of choice. In other words, social media has had an immeasurable effect on our lives, including how we engage and interact with others.

However, not everything is always as it seems on social media. As with the Internet in general, these platforms have become a hotbed of scammers and peddlers of fake news. The large number of global users, the dynamic nature of user-generated content, and the agility of bad actors make controlling these platforms extremely difficult for providers.

This means that users must take matters into their own hands.

Social media is a haven for scammers

Among the biggest threats to watch out for are friends and followers who aren’t who they say they are. Scammers use these profiles, often registered and managed by automated bots, to spam users with too-good-to-be-true offers, clickbait stories, romance scams and more. This can range from a “who viewed your profile” link to a fake cryptocurrency investment opportunity or one free gift card offer.

The bottom line is that they want your money and/or your data. They may be hoping that you click on a malicious link, triggering a secret malware download, or that you voluntarily hand over personal information. They may even lead you into a bigger scam like love fraud Or crypto scams.

10 tips for spotting counterfeiters

Social media platforms are getting better at removing inauthentic profiles and accounts. But they are far from being 100% successful. We all need to be more gullible about what we see on these sites. Here are some of the best ways to spot scammers:

  • An unusual bio: Fake accounts may have bios copied and updated elsewhere, leading to an incongruous mix of phrases. Also watch out for typos, excessive emojis, and/or stilted language indicating a robot.
  • Catfishers: Scammers may use fake social media profiles, just as they do on dating sites, in an attempt to trick their way into an online romantic relationship with the victim before asking for money. money be transferred to them. A reverse image search should be the first port of call. Also look for some of the other telltale signs of a scammer listed in this article – or watch the video.

  • A discrepancy between “follower” and “follow”: this is particularly common on Instagram. Spam accounts will automatically follow hundreds or thousands of users, but few of them will follow them back.
  • Friend’s profile picture: Sometimes scammers try to clone a friend’s account. They may then send an urgent message claiming a friend is in trouble and asking for money. It’s easier to do than it seems and still misleads many unwitting social media users. It’s always worth checking with any friend if they actually sent you a message like this. Send them a message through another channel. You can also look at the account sending the message. Does it display any of the telltale signs of a scam listed here?
  • Direct message (DM) spam: A fraudulent account will often try to send fake offers directly to you and encourage you to send a DM to someone else or visit a website to find out more. These accounts will also be fake, used to peddle anything from crypto investment fraud to retail scams.
  • No official checkmark: Instagram, Facebook And X (Twitter), for example, have badges or checkmarks to identify official accounts of companies, celebrities and others. If you see an account claiming to be a prominent organization or individual but doesn’t have any of the above, it’s likely an imposter.
Nicolas Cage
Just one (extreme) example among many others (source: Reddit)
  • Posting activity: Fake accounts often post a barrage of content in one go – perhaps with similar or identical captions – then go silent. Or even, they may not even post at all. So check the quantity, quality and cadence of all posts.
  • Free Gift Offers: Be wary of accounts that offer you gifts and/or money, perhaps in exchange for complete a survey. To do this, they can pose as a big brand. They just want your personal information.
  • Deeply discounted items: Fake accounts may also promote heavily discounted luxury items. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Random comments: If an account leaves comments on your posts unrelated to this post, it is most likely fake.

How to report fake accounts

The good news is that many social media gatekeepers like Instagram And LinkedIn, are continually looking for ways to improve account verification and keep inauthentic users and bots off their platforms. However, one of the best tools they have for detecting fake accounts is their eagle-eyed users. If you come across a fake profile, here’s how to report it on four major social media sites:

If someone pretends to be you, visit this page. If you spot a fake account, click the three-dot button at the bottom of the profile picture, then click “Find, Support or Report” or “Report Page.”

Report here. Or click the three dots next to the account name, then follow the instructions.

Click the three dots next to the account name, then click “Report.” Or Click here to report an account stealing your identity, that of your business or your child.

Click “More” under the account name, then click “Report/Block” or “Report Abuse”.

The best antidote we have against fraudulent followers is to make our profile private and then thoroughly vet anyone who wants to follow us. While life sometimes moves too fast for this to be 100% viable, keep the above in mind to stay safer online.

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