I have to admit, I was not familiar with Facebook cloned accounts until last week when at least one of my friends ran into this issue. Even though USA Today wrote a report on it last year (2017), it was not something that popped into my mind… for a couple of reasons. I don’t accept Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter) requests unless I really know the person. I refuse to accept requests, even if you are friends with my friend. If I haven’t communicated with you outside of Facebook, then I don’t want to communicate with you on Facebook. I also assumed that because I was using two factor authentication with my Facebook account, that I was “protected”. I was wrong.
The main idea behind the cloning, is someone takes your profile picture and creates a new account with your information and connects to your friends or in my case, just connected with me via messenger. This is the part that I don’t understand from Facebook, why are you letting people reach out to me on messenger when I am not friends with them? As I mention in my #banksrants, this really is a PSA, even for me! In every article that I read it keeps stating that the “cloner” will send you a friend request. In my case, they didn’t. When I click their name in the “chat”, it just goes to the messenger window. I am not friends with this person. I did have another friend that appears to have had his account hacked, when I click his name in messenger, it went to his real Facebook account.
Now Facebook knows there are fake accounts and the frustrating point, it appears that Facebook can’t do anything to stop this. So although we may have all our steps in place, our friends need to be prepared too. We need to make them aware that we would never ask for money (at least over messenger) or possibly to text us if we have messaged them if it seems unusual.
Doing some research though, I found some credible sites and information to at least help you a little bit or to limit your risk. I used the information on Hoax Slayer to change my friend list so that no one can view it. There is also this interesting post from three years ago explaining what can be done.
When it comes down to it, I have not found any way to limit who can contact me on Facebook messenger. Again, I did not accept a friend request for the cloner. I can limit some aspects of how people can find me but it does appear that these rules apply to messenger. I don’t use messenger!!! Why can’t manage it? Forcing this app on me is frustrating. I digress.
You can report an account that you think was cloned to Facebook but in my friends case, the “cloner” blocked him so he could not report it. Understand the difference between Privacy settings and Security settings on Facebook. Privacy is associated with what people can see (tied to cloned accounts) and security is focused on how to get into your account (tied to hacked accounts). Once again check your PRIVACY settings, not just your security settings on Facebook to make sure you are less likely to be cloned!! And don’t forget to remember to limit what information you post to your account as well!
This is why we can’t have nice things people!