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Here’s How To Prevent Your Facebook Account From Being Cloned

Here’s how you can report possible fake accounts and keep your own account secure

There’s been a rash of reported duplicate accounts in social media yesterday, and it’s gotten so bad that various government departments like the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Privacy Commission have announced they are monitoring the situation.

There have been many theories that try the explain the proliferation of fake accounts, though some have pointed out the correlation between alleged victim’s opposition to a controversial government measure to targeted attacks on their accounts.

We’re not here to talk about politics, and truth be told the idea of people impersonating people for the sake of doing bad things isn’t necessarily something that’s centered on what your political affiliation is. That being said, I’m not the sort that believes in coincidences and the upsurge of cloned accounts may have been the efforts of bad actors on both sides of the issue to further sow discord among the populace. Today’s polarized and incredibly charged political climate have made it clear that every single person that owns a Facebook account will need to take steps to ensure that it’s secure from identity thieves. Here are a few things that you can do to help you secure your Facebook account:

Report duplicates accounts ONCE, mass reporting DOES NOT HELP

As you’ve probably seen from your friends’ posts yesterday, many of them have found possible duplicate/imposter accounts by searching their name on FB and finding freshly-made accounts that don’t have a profile picture, friends, or any kind of posting history.

These can possibly be newly-made accounts that were made for malicious reasons. Reporting these accounts is easy – just click on the … button right beside where it says Message, and send a report to Facebook.

Whatever you do, DO NOT ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO MASS REPORT THE ACCOUNT. Mass reporting is counter-productive, as it floods the review queue and makes it harder for the people who review reports on this to do their jobs.

Limit your posts and your profile to your friends only

Many people don’t realize that they share way too much of their social life in public. I don’t blame them – it’s hard to see the harm in sharing mundane things about your life, about big milestones in your career, personal life, etc. What’s the harm in sharing that with the world, right?

A lot, actually. These tidbits about your life can be used against you using a technique called Social Engineering. The idea is that people can cull information that you willingly put out and use that to gain access to people in your friends’ list by posing as yourself and claiming you made a second account because you got locked out of your first one. From there, they can ask your friends for your phone number or any number of additional details that they can further use against you in follow-up social engineering attacks.

This is why it’s a good idea to limit your activity on Facebook to your friends only, and not make everything you post public.

Don’t know how to retroactively set your previous posts to friends only? Here’s how:

  • Click on the Settings menu on your Facebook account on the web or on the app
  • Select Privacy Settings And Tools
  • Change your activity settings to Friends (under who can see your future posts)
  • Click on Limit Past Posts. Limiting past posts will change any public posts you have to friends only, and anyone that’s tagged in that post.

Use Facebook’s View As function to see how much other people can see about your Profile

One nifty feature in Facebook that can help you see how much of your life other people can glean from your profile page is the View As button.

The View As button is right beside the Activity Log button if you’re using Facebook on desktop. If you’re on mobile, you need to press the … button right beside Add to your story button.

Clicking on the View As button will show your profile as it looks to someone that’s not your friend. My profile has already been restricted, and only shows my wife’s name, my cover photo, my profile photo, and 9 feature photos which are always public, as well as my interests.

Keeping your profile restricted like will make it harder for trolls and other bad people from harvesting your data to use on bad things.

Turn on two-factor authentication, and log out of devices you don’t recognize

One of the things you can do to make sure you have an almost un-hackable account is turning on two-factor authentication.

I wrote this article on why you need to turn on two-factor authentication five years ago but it’s still incredibly relevant today. While many sites are now turning on 2FA by default, many users still don’t have it turned on.

Another way to completely secure your account is to remotely log off devices that you might have used that you might not have logged off on.

Facebook keeps track of the devices you’re currently logged onto under Security and login, and if you don’t recognize some devices in that list, you can remotely log them off.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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