The most popular social networks don’t officially accept the existence of fake profiles on their platforms, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Today’s tip is to help you identify fake accounts on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and TikTok.
Many of these profiles are created to spy on people, apply scams and spread fake news, inappropriate or prohibited content, explains Leornado Rippol, from the Commission for Information Reliability and Combating Disinformation in the Digital Environment at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC).
He adds that fake accounts can also be used to propagate clickbaits, low-quality publications that seek to make money by attracting clicks or shares.
Here are three strategies that help you identify a fake profile on social media, according to the expert:
1. Search for the account name
Did you suspect an account? Take the name that appears on the profile, search the internet and observe the results. You can search on Google and other social networks.
If the name is too common, it makes it difficult to find more information about the person. In this case, try to associate the survey with other data that are available about it, such as the city where you live and age, for example.
The idea here is to try to find signs that it really exists.
If the account has nothing but a name and image that doesn’t help to identify the person, be aware. It’s a warning sign to be suspicious.
In profiles of institutions and celebrities, there is usually the presence of the verification seal (symbol in blue) that is next to the names. If not, it is possible that the profile is not official or is not authorized by the person or institution.
2. Check the photo
The absence of a photo or the use of it originated from image banks is another indication that the profile is misleading.
You can do a search to see where else the same image is being used on the internet. This procedure is called “Reverse Image Search” and can be done by tools like TinEye and Google itself.
Upload the photo in question to your computerOpen a web browser such as Chrome or Safari and go to Google Images.Click “Search by Image”.Click “Upload an image” and “Choose file or Browse”. Select the photo from the computer. Click “Open” or “Choose”.
NOTE: Find out here how to search images directly from websites, links and search results.
3. Attention to the absence or excess of publications
A warning sign for discovering fake accounts involves profiles that publish a huge amount of information, especially if they have a strong appeal to emotions, such as content that stimulates anger, outrage and fear.
The opposite is also a sign of attention. Be wary of accounts with almost no publishing. A photo social network that doesn’t have many photos? A video platform that doesn’t have published videos? Watch out for these signs.
Particularities of some social networks
Leonardo Rippol also points out that some platforms have some features that help us keep an eye on fake accounts.
Fake profiles on Facebook usually have either a lot of friends following or a very low number of people connected to the profile. In the first case, it can be the result of algorithms and automation and posting.
“The essential tip on Facebook is the friends list, because in fake profiles it has a random composition and the interaction with the profile is done in a generic way”, says Rippol.
That is, check the contact list of the profile you are distrusting. If the people on the list are from various locations in the country, this may indicate a lack of connection with the current region that the given profile claims to be – this, of course, thinking about a personal (not a company) profile.
Also note the comments of people interacting with posts from this account. Do the logs show the same people commenting? Do the sentences always seem very positive? Of support? If so, it could be warning signs.
Instagram e Twitter
With the exception of influencers (and those in the process of becoming such), the number of “followers” is usually greater than the number of “followers” on these social networks.
Therefore, the alert rule for very few followers is worth as much as watching thousands of accounts follow someone who doesn’t have many publications and doesn’t post many photos and videos.
On Twitter, where the use of bots (automated accounts that serve to generate volume of posts) is more common. Some are built to simulate human accounts well. However, others are easily identified as fakes.
When in doubt, it is possible to assess whether the account is automated through the PegaBot tool, which analyzes the profile and gives a score for the probability of being a bot.
TikTok has been gathering many profiles that use deepfake, videos manipulated with the help of artificial intelligence, as in the @deeptomcruise account, which has clearly humorous posts.
“Although content is often declared fake due to its humorous nature, it is important to know that this technology can also be applied to create fraud. Deepfake is increasingly realistic”, says Rippol.
In similar cases, it takes a closer look at facial expressions in the video and a quick search on other search engines to diagnose the authenticity of the profile.
Accounts that contact you without a photo and send you links without any context are on the list of likely fakes.
There is also the possibility that accounts are cloned and ask for money, which is a social engineering strategy used by criminals who take advantage of the trust between victims.