How to spot a fake profile on Facebook

How do you spot a fake profile? I guess there are no hard and fast rules but here are a few things that I have learned in the last few months whilst running my own Facebook group.

Blank background

Check out the background of somebody’s Facebook profile. Is there a picture or is it blank? Most fake profiles or spammers don’t bother to create a background image. So that’s your first warning sign to look out for. Any picture will do and a photo of a real person is even better. But if there is no background image, ask yourself why.

Facebook picture

Look at the picture. If there is no picture then that’s a major warning sign. Some fake profiles won’t even bother to give themselves one. But if there is a photo, take a close look at it. Does it look like it’s been snatched from Google images? Most real people aren’t perfect. The vast majority of us don’t look like glamour models. We have moles, we have one eye that looks a little wonky, we have double chins and zits. So if you see an avatar photo of somebody that looks impossibly beautiful and they are eating an apple or obviously posing for a catalogue there’s probably a reason.

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Profile URL

If you want to know if a Facebook profile is real then check out the URL of their profile. Most real profiles will have their name at the end of the URL. But most fake profiles don’t have a name. They have a sequence of numbers and letters.

And if there is a name at the end of their profile, check to make sure it’s the same one. If somebody has John Smith as their profile name and it says ‘Shirley Rodgers’ at the end of their URL then that’s another warning sign. Why two names?

Sex changes

Look out for profiles that seem to have two different genders. That is a surefire way of detecting a fake profile.

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If somebody is calling themselves Robert Davies then you presume they are a guy. But click ABOUT or TIMELINE on their profile. Does it say HE or SHE? If it says she, see what she shares with friends then you have a gender conflict! How can Robert be a SHE? Has he had a sex change?

Photos and other profile information

Fake profiles are usually blank profiles. So if details are a bit thin on the ground, ask yourself why.

There are a whole host of things that should be on there.

  • Work and Education
  • Places Lived
  • Contact and Basic Info
  • Family and Relationships
  • Details
  • Life Events
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Not all of us like to include too many details for privacy reasons. So you need to include this one in context with of all the other warning signs that I’ve already mentioned.

What photos are available to view on their profile?

If you just have the one Google image of a blonde bombshell eating an apple, again ask yourself why.

Real people will have real people in their photos. Family photos, holiday photos. Photos of their dogs and their cats. Their new tattoo.

Finally check out their friends.

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Fake profiles and spammers usually have very few friends on their list. Real people have at least a handful unless they have set their profile to private.

And if there are friends, take a close look at them.

If the guy that has asked to join your Facebook group is named Trevor Smith then you’d expect a few other English names on there. But if the people on his friends list all have Arabic Names or Chinese names you need to ask yourself whether he is an English guy himself.

Similar check out any groups that they belong to.

Some fake profiles will belong to hundreds of groups whereas some won’t be members of any. Both are suspicious in my experience. If your guy is named Trevor Smith and all his groups are Chinese then that is also suspicious. If most of his groups are groups on how to make money or buying and selling groups, be doubly suspicious about his intentions.

Accepting that friend request or that new member into your Facebook group can have major repercussions if you don’t check them out properly. So I hope this article has been helpful. But also trust your gut instinct. If somebody sounds a little dodgy or too good to be true, don’t let them in. And try sending them a private message. Most fake profiles and spammers won’t reply.

By Ally Atherton