By now, most of us are aware that fake Facebook profiles aren’t exactly rare. Even though a fake Facebook account might not seem like a big deal, recent headlines and current events have shown us otherwise.
Aside from the onslaught of misinformation fueled by fake accounts on Facebook, there are many more ways in which these phony profiles affect other users, including those who use Facebook for marketing purposes. And even if all of your activity on the social site is 100% authentic and well-intentioned, it’s still possible to end up dragged down by faux Facebookers.
How Fake Facebook Accounts Work Against Your Goals
When you’re investing time, effort, and money into Facebook marketing strategies, you don’t want anything to stand between you and your maximum potential ROI. Unfortunately, fake profiles on Facebook can harm your efforts.
Here are a few ways that fake Facebook accounts can slow you down in the pursuit of your goals:
- Wasted time/resources associated with removing fake followers
- Decreased quality of interaction/engagement due to spam comments
- Possible cybersecurity risks for your customers/online followers
- Reduced customer trust/confidence
Even though Facebook works to pinpoint and eliminate illegitimate profiles, the issue has long outpaced its internal efforts. According to McAfee, based on estimates stemming from the last-reported number of fake Facebook users, there could be upwards of 160 million-plus fraudulent accounts.
This vast number of fraudulent accounts means that anyone that uses Facebook for business (or even personal purposes) should expect to do their due diligence to separate the real from the fake online.
How to Tell if a Facebook Profile is Fake
Usually, fake accounts on Facebook fall into one of two categories:
- Human-operated accounts that a person with ill intentions runs
- Bot accounts that use automation operation
You can often spot a Facebook bot account a mile away because they frequently employ obvious tactics like copy-and-pasted spam comments. Fake accounts created and managed by individuals can be trickier, but certain indications can still clue you in.
Signs that a Facebook Profile is Fake
Here’s what to look for to determine if a Facebook profile is real or fake – if an account has more than a couple of these red flags, it’s best to proceed with caution.
Noticeably fake profile photos
One of the most common ways that bots and fake accounts entice unknowing users is by using an extremely attractive image as the “face” of the profile.
Countless scientific studies break down the human habit of assuming that beauty and integrity go hand in hand. Researchers have consistently found that humans tend to trust people they perceive as aesthetically attractive more easily. So, don’t blame yourself for doing a double-take – just make sure you avoid making this all-too-common error.
It’s not unusual for fakers to repurpose photos of a celebrity or simply steal images from other unsuspecting Facebook users. You can use Google Image Search to see if photos have an original source other than the profile you’re viewing.
Only one (or a couple) photos
A bot account will have just a single photo on its profile in many cases. The entire purpose of a bot is to use minimal effort to wreak maximum havoc, so they aren’t going to be fleshing out a well-rounded profile page. Instead, there might be just one or two photos to create the illusion of a real person.
Bio information that seems strange or too good to be true
Does the profile have a biography section that reads like something from a movie? Maybe the user boasts a long list of supposed accolades and accomplishments, or perhaps something just doesn’t seem quite right. Whatever the case, strange bio info can signify an illegitimate account.
No account activity (or too much activity)
When you click on an authentic Facebook profile, you can expect to see a wide range of activity. Real users will share updates, post photos, interact with friends, and generally have an active presence. But if a Facebook profile has an entirely blank activity feed, it’s time to be suspicious.
On the other end of the spectrum, excessive activity is also a cause for concern. Bots are often programmed to complete a certain number of “likes” or comments per day, far more than an actual human would. So, an activity feed that shows dozens and dozens of repeated actions each day is probably fake.
Also, take a quick look at how many friends a Facebook user has. Fake pages tend to have either thousands and thousands of friends (way more than a person would actually have) or just a handful of equally bogus friend accounts.
The account doesn’t respond to interaction
A go-to Facebook fake account checker method requires just a few seconds and a couple of clicks. Even though bots are programmed to accept friend requests automatically, they usually can’t respond appropriately to messages or other attempts at engagement. So, send a quick message and see what (if anything) you get back.
What is the Purpose of Fake Facebook Accounts?
There are many reasons people create and use fake accounts on Facebook, with motivating factors ranging from fairly innocent to completely criminal.
An individual might use an inauthentic Facebook profile for personal gain in some cases. They could choose to interact with others under the guise of their faux identity without aiming to engage in any illegal activity. However, if you’re using Facebook for advertising and your brand, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll have many experiences with these types of accounts.
Cybercriminals are among the most nefarious Facebook fakers to gain access to users’ personal information, which they either sell or use to commit identity theft crimes. These people steal private data to open illegal credit cards, make purchases, and secure loans.
However, there are also many fake accounts created for the sole purpose of generating money. Buying and selling Facebook followers has grown into a multimillion-dollar business that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Both individuals (specifically, online influencers or celebrities) and companies are willing to shell out serious cash to exaggerate their likes, follower count, and engagement. And since it’s pretty easy and affordable to buy the software to create fake profiles, it’s something that tempts many people with the promise of profits.
What to Do if You Find a Fake Facebook Page
If you suspect that a fake page has approached you, you can quickly report it to Facebook for review. From there, it’s in the hands of the Facebook team – and you’ll know to stay far away from the profile.
Get a Smart and Safe Facebook Marketing Strategy
Sometimes, your best bet is to call in a professional when navigating the increasingly complex world of Facebook, especially when your marketing goals, budget, and brand reputation are at stake.
V Digital Services can help you develop and implement a successful social media strategy while safeguarding your brand from fakes and phonies. For more information about using Facebook to elevate your marketing, contact our team today!
Image Sources: Saxarinka / Artem Samokhvalov
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