05 Dec How to Spot a Fake Social Media Account
If you’ve been on the Internet for over a decade like myself, than you’ve ran into a fake social media account or two. My first bout with a fake profile was pre-Y2K. I was going through a messy divorce and much of my time was spent on the Internet with the launch of my new Web design business. Sadly, my first Internet stalker was my ex-husband. He created a snoop account pretending to be a non-threatening gay man looking for someone to chat with. I should have figured it out, because my ex became confrontational each weekend he had the kids and somehow always knew what was going on in my personal life! He kept up the charade for nearly a year before his anger and jealousy got the better of him and he revealed that he’d been stalking me.
Here are a few things to look out for when adding new friends and avoiding fake social media accounts…
Newly Created Accounts
Beware of the friend requests from new accounts. Most stalkers are motivated out of some emotional distress (i.e. a breakup or a falling out), while others are just plain nosy (an estranged friend or love interest) and want to virtually peek into your life with anonymity. Their strong desire to spy drives them to create an account and to add as many friends in a hurry.
Questionable Account Activity
Consistency is always key and a flurry of activity or lack thereof is a dead give-away to a fake. Stalkers are impatient and task themselves to quickly earn your trust. These brazen fools may even send you a note with their friend request! After they gain access to your account there’s a serious priority shift — the new objective is to lay and wait for the content to flow. There’s no real need to keep up photo additions, status updates or fake conversations with people they don’t want to talk to anymore. If you notice an account is not being updated — delete it.
Here are a few other things to look out for on the most popular social media accounts:
New Facebook accounts show an account progress activity bar when you first sign up. A new account will also has very few wall posts. If their Recent Activity shows they’ve just updated their personal information or uploaded a bunch of photos, then they probably just started using their account. Check to see who else they are interacting with. What’s the use of signing up for FB if you don’t connect with your real friends? If you don’t see a “Hey girl, so you finally got on Facebook” message on their wall…they probably don’t exist.
New twitter accounts are easy to spot. Check out the activity on their timeline and see who they are tweeting. If an account had 17 posts from yesterday, and nothing prior to that, than its probably a snoop account. You can also use Twitter’s search utility to see who has been tweeting that person prior to them adding you. There are several Twitter add-ons that will tell you when someone created their twitter profile as well. It’s also customary for people to acknowledge that your own twitter. If you don’t see, “Hey so your finally on twitter?” from their friends, or the typical, “Hello out there? or the frustration tweets, ” I don’t know how to use this thing”, then beware of a fake account. If someone has a private account, request to add them before you approve them. You can always unfollow them at anytime. Always read bios and check out Website links. Please note that stalkers are getting more savy, I’ve seen stalkers actually make multiple accounts to communicate with themselves so they look like real people interacting. If you see someone talk to only 4 people, or have general conversations with people they don’t know keep an eye on their account.
Most stalkers are headed off at the pass with horrible profile photos choices. Let’s be honest, I am more likely to add my the sample guy at Trader Joes than Tom Cruise, Buddha or the Easter Bunny. Why the sample guy? Because he’s normal and seemingly harmless, yet stalkers tend to choose celebrities, extremely attractive women or men, political figures or random artistic graphics as avatars.
The first thing I do before I approve a friend request is ask, “Why would they want me as a friend?” Do we have friends in common? Do they work in my industry? Do we live in the same city? Is he/she interested in me romantically? I think everyone should approach virtual friendships in this way. I also delete accounts right if I don’t see both personal and professional photographs, especially when dealing with the model/actor types. If you are in a swimsuit or on a red carpet in every photo, chances the account is made by a stalker, fake OR your celebrity management team.
Friend Counts & Mutual Friends
While its possible to hide your friends list on Facebook, you cannot hide your mutual friends. I always look to see what mutual friends I have in common in to determine where they may have come from and deny requests that originate without anything people or interests in common. With over 8K friends on Facebook and four accounts, if someone wants to be friends with me and no one else I know in the Los Angeles area, something is up.
My personal rule of thumb is that Followers vs Follower ratios should not vary by 50%. True a lot of people don’t know how to Twitter works, but I have spotted way too many fake accounts that make the mistake of following 400 people and have only14 followers. In April of this year, I had over 20+ fake accounts attempt to follow me and hundreds of others while they all amassed only a handful of followers.
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