Facebook, A Home For Scammers?
Note: This article is not meant to slam Facebook. I am publishing it to bring awareness to a problem that should be better managed. Scammers only ruin the Facebook experience for everyone.
In July 2018, I published an article on LinkedIn entitled ‘Sorry… She is not REALLY into you! — **Fake Friend Requests on Facebook!’. Over a year later, my Facebook account still receives Friend Requests from fake accounts weekly.
How to spot a fake or bot account…
As a person who works in Marketing, PR and Social Media, I can spot a fake account on social media quite quickly. I also believe that most people can as well. But for those who are unsure here is how.
- Usually, the person has an attractive profile picture and/or it is somewhat revealing or promiscuous.
- The person sometimes has no cover image. Most real people on Facebook utilize cover images to give their page a little more character or flair.
- The pictures posted to the account were posted the same day and there are not that many of them.
- There are exceptions to the last point… sometimes you scroll down and you see that there are pictures that do not match the current profile picture. However, these people tend to be pictured living in a different country than what is listed on their profile and sometimes have a different gender altogether. Maybe their accounts were hacked… or maybe these people decided to become scammers themselves. I am unclear about that.
- Their first post or their latest post includes a link promising sex or dates. Never ever click on links of this nature as they most likely are phishing links.
What does Facebook recommend?
Facebook recommends that one reports the profile and/or the post.
This is a fast process and takes a minute or two to do. However, when one is getting several requests per week this takes up time and starts to ruin the Facebook experience.
Sometimes, Facebook does take action and the account is removed. However, a lot of times it is not. In fact, you will receive a message saying that the account does not go against their community standards. Does this mean that Facebook believes that it is ok to set up multiple fake accounts that target people? If the person is an obvious bot or scammer, then it should be removed.
Personally, it is tiresome to go through and report these scammers and then find out that there was no action taken. The other thing that I noticed is that when I do report and block someone, I get two or three more requests. This becomes annoying quickly.
Can you avoid this?
Most likely once you are on a list to receive these types of Friend Requests you are pretty much stuck and it is something that you simply have to live with.
However, if you have never received a Friend Request of this nature then there are probably some ways to keep yourself safe.
- Keep your profile private. You probably can keep your profile searchable. But the more private your profile is the less chance there is to receive these scams.
- Never join public groups, only join private groups.
- Be careful where you share links to your Facebook account. I know that is a bummer, but if you openly share a link to your Facebook account in a forum or enter it in a form it is like publishing your account for the entire world to find. So, only share links to your profile with people in messages or better yet with people that you know or at least trust.
- Never comment on a post that seems like a scam in a group or on a page. Interacting means that the person or bot can get the link to your page. Just report it.
Can Group Admins help fight scammers?
Yes, if you are an admin of a group then you have the ability to help.
- Set your group to private.
- Require that people requesting to join answer questions that specific to the community that you want to build.
- Require people to agree to specific rules. Granted scammers who do slip through the cracks will break rules.
- As an admin, it is up to you to monitor your community. Once a scammer joins your group, he or she could access the member list and gain links to all the members. So, it is important to monitor your group.
- If you or one of your members finds questionable content with strange links then report the content, remove and block the member.
- You can go one step farther and require that all content shared in your group be approved. But if you have a large group then this kills time.
What about Instagram?
As you know, Instagram is owned by Facebook. However, what is interesting is that even though Instagram does get scammers, they seem to manage it 100 times better than Facebook.
This is quite strange, and one would think that Facebook could be able to combat scammers better. But it seems like Instagram is doing more to solve the issue than its parent company.
Facebook is a great social media platform. It is a wonderful way to connect with people who share the same interests, reconnect with old friends and stay in contact with friends and family.
However, scammers and bots ruin the social experience. I have chatted with friends of different genders and sexualities. They all have told me that they receive various types of scam/spam Friend Requests. The sad thing is that there are people out there that do fall for these scams. These people do add the scammers and do click on the links. They also comment on the scammer’s photo. Thus, enabling their data to be phished or their passwords to be stolen. In some aspects, I feel sorry for those who fall for these types of scams.
What I do hope is that Facebook finds a solution and that they take a more proactive stance against scammers. One would think with all their technology and the further development of AI that they could easily catch profiles of this nature quickly.
I enjoy Facebook…. in Marketing and PR it plays a big role in spreading news and developing a community. So it is necessary for me and for brands. Thus, I do hope that they strive harder to combat scams of this nature.
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