Facebook is abuzz today with news of a “new” scam. The status update alerts readers that “Someone is stealing Facebook personal profiles, complete with pictures, and friend requesting your friends.” Scary and unnerving, right? Well, this is really nothing new. This has been happening since the dawn of Facebook.
Depending on the privacy settings of your profile, others may easily see, copy, or download your photos. There is nothing preventing someone from copying a profile, either personal or brand (except maybe corporate lawyers). But there are steps one can take to mitigate this risk:
- Claim your name on Facebook. In the URL bar, it should appear as http://www.facebook.com/YourRealNameHere. This is step one of protecting your online real estate. We also advise claiming your own domain name.
- Lock down your privacy settings and photo sharing settings. Setting your privacy to “Friends Only” is a small step to protecting your prized photos. But truth is once a photo is on the web, there is nothing preventing anyone from stealing it.
- Use a secure and strong password and NEVER share your login credentials with anyone. Especially a love interest, employee, or boss. There are some horror stories out there where accounts have been hacked, removed and replaced with fake ones, etc. It’s not pretty.
- Do not accept “friend requests” from people you do not know. This one seems like a no-brainer but many do it. This an especially sensitive topic for teenagers. They tend to like their networks big and therefore accept friend requests from just about anyone who asks. This can be very dangerous. Review your child’s privacy settings with him/her referencing the risks we outline here and remind them to be cautious when online.
- Report the fake profile. Facebook makes this step fairly easy. Go to the fake profile’s timeline and click on the down arrow next to the Message button. Select Report/Block. Now choose the option: “This timeline is pretending to be someone or is fake”.
Some reports of this method show varying success. Yes, Facebook can look into the account and may delete it. But there are also stories about this step taking forever or the profile never getting taken down.
The bottom line is nothing is un-stealable on the web. So claim your real estate, check on the deed every now and then, and make sure you get to know your neighbours so they know when the squatters move in.