Current category:Tips and Tricks

How do I spot a fake Facebook profile?

There are definately a lot of fake Facebook profiles out there. Numbers released from Facebook themself suggests that 83 million facebook accounts are fake – that’s more than the total number of people living in France and the Netherlands combined! An estimated 5-6% of all Facebook accounts are fake. Fake autogenerated profiles offer the creators of those the possibility of spamming your wall with weird content and also bloat the number of fans for certain pages.

There are some studies of fake Facebook profiles that indicate that fake profiles have a higher average number of friends and most often identify themselves as females.  For identifying whether a specific profile is fake these studies however only offer vague clues.

So how to spot a fake Facebook profile?

Looking at a company Facebook page the other day I noticed an unnatural high number  of fans for that type of company but strangely very low fan activity on the same Facebook page. Very few likes and no comments made it a bit of a strange case. I did find a few Likes though and decided to have a closer look at those profiles. I came up with the following little trick which also will introduce you to a great and not that well-known feature of Google. Here goes:

1. Locate the Profile image of the Facebook profile you want to check. For this little test let’s use the SPAMfighter Aim logo present on the SPAMfighter Facebook page.

SPAMfighter Facebook

2. Right-click on the image and save it somewhere where you easily can find it again! The Windows desktop would be a great place!

3. Now enter Google Image Search. Google Image Search is a great tool where you can search for images based on other images. I would suggest using Google Chrome or Firefox as Browser here. For some reason it does not seem to work for Internet Explorer 9.

4. Drag the recently saved file from your desktop til the search field. It is a little nifty but you will probably work it out!

Google image search

5. Now Google Image Search will check where the image is present on Facebook profiles and a lot of other places on the Internet.

If we for a moment return to my original fake profile my search using the above method actually produced a lot of Facebook profiles having the same profile image. See below. My best guess is that most of those Facebook profiles are fake!

Remember to delete any profile images you download from Facebook by the way. Pretty sure Facebook or Facebook users don’t want their profile images laying around on your computer!

Are anyone stealing your Facebook profile image?

A nice little test would of cource be to test whether any fake Facebook profiles use your profile image? Using the test above it is pretty easy to reveal. So locate your own Facebook page, save the profile image you use and do the Google image search. If you notice your profile image present on other profiles I suggest you report it to Facebook using this link.

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About Kim Falkner

VP Marketing for SPAMfighter with a passion for IT-security and blogging. Follow me on Google+ (+Kim Falkner) or LinkedIn (Kim Falkner on LinkedIn)
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24 Comments

  1. Kara says:

    That is very interesting. It is better to have fewer but active fans than to have a bunch of fake fans with no activity.

  2. Kim Falkner says:

    thank you Kara. It seems some prefer having a lot of fake fans instead of few real fans. If that was’nt so all those offers selling fake fans would die

  3. Amber says:

    I agree, having a bunch of fake fans and followers make you look bad IMO, especially if there is no engagement on your profiles. It is easy to see it too.

  4. George G says:

    Shitty Facebook. Why do they not do the same facebook profile picture test each time someone creates a new profile or change profile picture? That shoulnt be rocket science

  5. Kim Falkner says:

    You are right George. It should not be that difficult for them to check whether an account use an existing Facebook profile image and figure out that they where dealibng with a fake Facebook account. Facebook also considered facial recognition at some point but it was a bit too controversial.

  6. Angel says:

    I hope those that sell fake FB fans go out of business fast. They do more harm than good.

  7. Alex says:

    Check the user’s past activity. If its nil then you know it is fake.

  8. jake says:

    that shit doesnt work at all

  9. Kim Falkner says:

    Hi Jake

    Feel free to elaborate. Are you using the correct browser?

    Happy new year!

  10. Miriam Tow says:

    Great FB ressource guys. Thanx

  11. Carlo Vai says:

    So are these fake profiles generated by somme bots or is it scumbag nutheads just grabbing random facebook profiles and reusing them? Nevertheless annoying and it should be easy for FB to stop this or just warn us

    Over and out

  12. Cara says:

    great trick Thank you. Found A few fakeish facebook users

  13. Daniel Statescu says:

    There is always FB Checker. It might not be 100% accurate, but at least it’s a good start and it’s free. It will check all photos that you select. Works similar to Google Images but it’s a lot easier and faster because it focuses on Facebook profiles. You can get it from fbchecker.com

  14. Dan says:

    You can just install the Chrome extension to search by image on right click. No need to save and drag every time.

    PS: Salut Daniel Statescu

  15. nalin says:

    This was indeed very useful. I always worry that if I add someone randomly I might be inviting a stranger to hack my account. I would definitely use the tool and make sure that it is not a fake account before adding.

  16. Windell says:

    Tineye is another great tool to use when verifying image authenticity. You can reverse image search using the official website (https://www.tineye.com/) or you can use the Chrome browser . Personally, I use the plugin since it’s so convenient.

  17. Kim Falkner says:

    Thank you Windell. That is a great plugin.

  18. Jonathan says:

    These are great tips! I’ve been on FB for three years and thought I was pretty FB literate, but some of these things I wasn’t even aware of. Thanks!

  19. Peter says:

    If you’re trying to figure out if an FB profile is fake or legit, I’d also suggested looking into person’s friends list and seeing who the friends are connected to. If all the ‘friends” are connected to each other and no one else, steer clear.

  20. Laurie Owen says:

    I have been involved with a group of people who are looking into not only fake profiles on Facebook, but also the whole 419 Scammer phenomenon in general. We’ve found that there are a few red flag clues in any facebook profile: 1) date they joined facebook. 2) “about”–if it’s apparently a man, and their interest is in women, that’s a red flag. 2) look at their friends. If the profile is apparently a man, and all their friends are women, that’s a red flag. 3) look carefully at their likes and groups. You’ll often find pretty clear evidence of their true intentions in one of those places. 4) look carefully at the posts on the timeline itself. Are they mainly spam, or weird comments in broken English, while the person is supposedly from Alabama, New York or Switzerland, South Carolina? Red flag. 5) If they send you a message and call you “dear”, BIG red flag. 6) Does the name on the url match the name on the profile? No? Red flag. 7) Is the profile picture of a woman, but the little message about asking them for friendship says “he”, uh yes. Red flag. I hope this helps.

  21. Soraya says:

    In the era of catfishing, these tips are very relevant. Any advice on how to spot a fake Tumblr or Twitter account? Or could the Facebook advice be generalize to other platforms?

  22. Kim Falkner says:

    @laurie

    Thank you. Those are great tips!

  23. Maria says:

    Great article! I’m sending this to my children right now.

  24. Scott says:

    I did research on this for a school paper ad few months ago. From what I learned: most fake FB profiles identify themselves as female, have 700+ friends, and have never updated their status. The best detector is your gut. If something is telling you this person is unauthentic, unfriend them and let your friends know not to fall prey to this individual.

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