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Won't Get Fooled Again, an SEO's take on Facebook Security and Fake Profile Problems.

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Have you ever tried to find someone you know on Facebook and searched to find more than one result with the same picture?

facebook security masked man
Perhaps someone you know has told you that they have a 'facebook stalker' or someone who is 'posing as them' online and talking to their friends.

This is very confusing. I find it is usually done by someone who:

A) You know in real life, but for some reason they have decided to try to attack you online.

B) You DON'T know at all, and they simply don't have the means to create an awesome profile or simply aren't photogenic and want to fool people with your personal photos.


Thankfully, this can end pretty much within about 5 days after you report a fake account to Facebook.

Dealing with Facebook Account Hijackers

There have been some worse cases where people 'hijack' other people's Facebook profiles simply by duplicating them and adding all of their 'Facebook friends' to a point where it is simply too confusing to know which is which. When the culprit that is trying to mess with the real person, they often send out 'dis-information' style messages that claim that someone is copying their account, thus adding to the confusion.

Recently I had to solve this problem for a friend in NYC. There is a simple, yet effective solution.

The Problem?

My Canadian friend Sally, now in NYC, started getting messages from friends regarding messages and friend adds they were getting from someone they thought was her.
People would respond to her profile from things said by the faker, simply by mistake at first, then it was just too confusing for newbies (or non-techies) to figure out which was the right profile to use for her.
Now when working in the entertainment business as Sally does and need to reach out to contacts for real work, it is very detrimental to your business to have to explain yourself and tell people to delete the fake profile, and re add you, especially when the 'faker' is doing the same thing, thus making matters even worse.
1) This unfriendly person had added all of the real person's friends over a few weeks already.

2) This person also copied all of her recent and past photos to make the profile look very similar.

3) Your Average Facebook user has no idea how to tell them apart.

4) The only difference in the two profiles appeared to be some numerical URL.


SOLUTION


I came up with this idea after thinking about how to beat them at their own game. The main problem with her efforts to stop this was that Sally was changing her profile picture, emailing people to only use the account with the new picture, just to see that hours or minutes later, the faker would copy the picture to his fake profile, negating this attempt.

What was really annoying was when this person would send out messages stating: "Someone has hacked my account, they are not the real profile I am!" when in fact they were the faker.

I knew we could use the image to solve this problem and came up with this method: Feel free to use it!

If someone is copying you, aside from reporting them to have it completely removed from Facebook (which may take some time, as facebook has so many users) here is what I suggest you do.
A) Get a Facebook custom username by visiting http://facebook.com/username

We were able to get this nice clean URL for her: http://facebook.com/sallysomething

B) Create an image that has a watermark WITH that username on it and a note telling the world that THIS and ONLY THIS URL is the real account. That there are fakers using their picture and only to trust this URL and delete all others. expert-article-facebook-security-
1
Comment
6 Comments
 
LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
An interesting take on a problem that I personally will never experience.  I'm just not that exciting enough, nor handsome enough for anyone to want to impersonate.

Good stuff, guitarify.  Gets a vote from me.
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LVL 75

Expert Comment

by:Michel Plungjan
But what stops the faker from getting /somethingsally and add exactly the same wording in the same font on their picture?
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LVL 2

Author Comment

by:Aaron @KRONiS
mplungjan,

you can only get a username once. so she got her firsnamelastname and stated that in the photo. he can't get her same custom URL.

the way the hacker wins prior to doing this was the confusing long facebook URLs.
now we have facebook.com/hername and he can't copy that once she claimed it.

:)
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Cyber Threats to Small Businesses (Part 2)

The evolving cybersecurity landscape presents SMBs with a host of new threats to their clients, their data, and their bottom line. In part 2 of this blog series, learn three quick processes Webroot’s CISO, Gary Hayslip, recommends to help small businesses beat modern threats.

 
LVL 75

Expert Comment

by:Michel Plungjan
Did you notice I swapped the firstname/lastname
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LVL 2

Author Comment

by:Aaron @KRONiS
sure but my point is you can only get that username once with her firstnamelastname and then she posts the image and if someone wants to get her lastname firstname and post an image, then the image will be different...

so sure that person could try to continue to harrass her by making his own version with different spellings but i think her doing that first trumps it.

i wouidn't spend to much energy on thinking of how to 'beat this solution' as it will work once with your friends, as long as you don't keep changing the picture.

AK
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
Hi guitarify (Aaron)

It would seem that your friend Sally hasn't persisted with your idea of watermarking her facebook images, or else I've just been looking at the facebook page created by her nemesis.  Your supplied image wasn't difficult to match using tineye.com where I found your other two articles in which sally's surname is provided.  From there a google or facebook search provides a quick match, and all the images on her facebook page are completely public.

While your article is very interesting and does highlight some definite problems with social network "stalking" or "identity mirroring" (or whatever other buzz words apply), your solution can only be of any value to users if applied consistently and continuously.  While some peoples' facebook profiles must remain "approachable" and open because they live or work in an area that involves publicity of some kind, this type of thing is always going to be an issue.

This isn't a negative comment, it is just a realistic observation.  I used to be a legal investigator and I have an inquisitive nature, in case you wonder why I went off looking for matches.

Good article though.

Bill
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