How Facebook Users Can Thwart Imposters Who Spoof Their Identities - Page 2

But suppose it’s you that’s being spoofed? The Facebook Help Center has a page on reporting an account that’s pretending to be you, as well. If you don’t have an account on Facebook or on Messenger, there’s a form you can fill out.

More important is to keep it from happening in the first place. While there are many who will suggest making everything you do in Facebook private, that’s not a solution for many of us who want our posts to be seen in public. But you can make your friends list private, which you can do by going to your profile and clicking on the down arrow on the line with the search bar. Then look at the column on the left.

You’ll see an item labeled “Privacy” that you should click on. Then you go to “who can see my friends list” and change the setting to “Friends” instead of “Everyone.” That way, no one can use your friends list against you and they can’t use it as a source for names to gain your confidence.

According to Facebook's spokesperson, “our systems are designed to check whether the recipient already has a friend with the same name, along with a variety of other factors that help us determine if an interaction is legitimate.” The spokesperson said that the company is continually working on this problem.

But to do that, you have to have an account on the service, so the algorithms will check if it’s on Facebook, or it will check if you’re on Messenger. But it doesn’t appear to check between systems if you don't have a Messenger account. Since Pallatto didn't also have a messenger account it made it easier to spoof him. Having an account on both will reduce the chance of spoofing.

In addition, Facebook will take action against someone who is spoofing an account and pretending to be another person.

“Claiming to be another person on Facebook violates our Community Standards, and we have a dedicated team that’s tasked with helping to detect and block these kinds of scams,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “We encourage people not to accept suspicious requests and report suspected phishing messages.”

Facebook considers fake names to be a scam, and has published some guidance on how to avoid them.

However, all of this isn’t as easy as it might be. It means you have to be suspicious when someone shows up in Messenger, for example, and doesn’t appear right. But it can be worse.

It’s pretty easy to see from recent news that assertions of wrongdoing and bad behavior are taken very seriously by the public. If there’s evidence confirming the wrongdoing then the consequences can be significant.

But providing fake evidence is easier than ever when all one needs to do is create a fake account and then begin to say things that appear to be compromising. What this means is that evidence arriving via social networking must always be suspect unless it can be verified. Taking active control of your identity online will make it harder for fakes to be verified.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...