There’s been an uptick of people setting up fake Facebook accounts using existing account names and images, then trying to friend your Facebook friends. Happened to a few friends of mine.
Here’s what these Facebook Fakers are doing—they browse through Facebook and find someone that has lots of Facebook friends, who also doesn’t seem too tech savvy. Older people and the handicapped are frequent targets. They download your profile image, make note of your personal information, and your list of friends. They they open a new account using a variation of your name (example: Jane Mary Doe —> J.M. Doe), uploading the same profile image and info from your account.
Then they start contacting your friends. Your friends see the friend request, assume somehow the two of you were accidentally unfriended, and accept.
Why do they do this? Some of the fakers are just trolls and want to stir up trouble. They may post rude comments on the wall or on the walls of your friends, just to see what happens. Others will actually start a conversation, and they attempt to get money or personal information from your friends.
What can you do to stop it? Not much. It can happen to anyone, at any time. Some people choose to leave Facebook (and other social media sites) because of it but I personally choose to stay because of the legitimate friendships I have.
If you decide to stay, here is one thing you can do to help prevent the fakers from picking on you:
HIDE YOUR FRIEND LIST!
To do this, go to your profile page and click on the “Friends” link just below your cover picture.
Look for the pencil icon. Click it and then click on “Edit Privacy”.
There are three sections: Friend List, Following, and Followers. To the right, click the drop-down arrow by each one and select your privacy setting. I recommend “Friends”. With this setting only people who you’ve allowed to be your friends can see your other friends.*
If you want even more privacy, you can select “Only Me”. With this setting, you’re the only one who can see your friends.
You may also want to go through your Friend list and make sure everyone on there is actually someone you know and trust. Unfriend anyone you don’t know.
If you suspect a friend has been targeted, let them know by sending the profile URL to them using their email, not their Facebook message or account. Have them verify the link you sent is really them.
Here are a few additional articles with tips for spotting fakers and what to do if they target you:
*The image is of my personal Facebook account. I have not (to my knowledge) been targeted by a Facebook Faker.