Fear Not, Facebook

Facebook. The great wealth of information, social networking, and viral memes (a photo or graphic, often with a funny quote). Also in this maze of social media are messages that beg you to share them.  They hearken back to chain letters that were sent through the email in the late 90s and early 2000s, and through the postal system in the decades before that. Some are perfectly harmless, if not annoying, but there are others that carry nefarious intentions to drive others to panic.

The following message was shared through the Facebook direct messaging system.  People would receive it, perceive a need to pass it along until it had traveled to thousands of people’s inboxes. Variations quickly appeared and were spread across Facebook by friendly users trying to do the right thing.

“Hi….I actually got another friend request from you yesterday…which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. Good Luck! PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW ONE FROM ME AT THIS TIME.”

This message suggests that someone had received multiple friend requests from you. This indicates that your account had been cloned (duplicated), but what many failed to consider is the part on the end that says to forward the message.  As the message stands, it will make the next person think that their account has also been cloned, and not serve as a warning that yours may have been.

When the message is taken as a whole, it becomes clear that its design was to cause confusion and concern, and that it has no bearing on you or your friend’s accounts. It is a scam.

What Is A Cloned Account?  

When an account is cloned by someone, they take whatever public information they can get, such as photos, biography information, and friend lists.  They will then create a new profile with this exact information and send friend requests from the original person’s list. If those friends unknowingly accept this second friend request, they are allowing a stranger to see everything that they do not share publicly.  If someone has a private account, only their friends can see that information.

As in many other parts of our lives an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to prevent your account being cloned is to keep it as private as you can. This will allow the important people in your life to see what you post, but not just any stranger.

For Further Security:

  • Never accept friend requests from people you don’t know, or second ones from friends.  Always double check before you accept.
  • Carefully consider anything you plan to post. Does it give too much away about your private life? We all crave that closeness with friends, and Facebook is able to bridge the gap of thousands of miles; however, there is such a thing as oversharing, even with loved ones.
  • If someone asks you to share a post or message, think about how it will be understood or appreciated by your friends and family.
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