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An Illegal Facebook Marketing Technique To Watch Out For



Facebook identity theftFacebook has been hogging the limelight, reaching that milestone as the world’s largest social network with almost 500 million users worldwide. Never has it been featured so often as this last year, and unfortunately, it’s been for all the wrong reasons. In response to a large number of its members voicing concerns for their privacy, Facebook made some recent changes so it might be easier for users to hide their personal information. For the most part it seems to have worked; less people are talking about it and the media have taken the spot off Facebook. But are users really safe though due to this new change? I discovered the answer to that very question firsthand recently, and definitely not to my liking.

It all started when I came back from the supermarket. I logged into Facebook as usual to check what activity had occurred while I was gone. As I finished replying to the comments on my profile page I looked at the news feed. As I did, something struck me as very odd. I saw that Facebook was telling me that I had just become friends with someone I knew a long time ago; “Sam Bakker”. I clicked on my own name out of curiosity really, and loaded the profile. As I looked, I realised that this account looked like mine, sounded like mine and yet, it was certainly was not me. My photo was there and all my information had been stolen from my website; this person was becoming friends with all my friends. This black hat internet marketer was stealing my online identity right in front of me and there was nothing I could do about it.

This new identity theft tactic marketers are using is done so they can sneak under Facebook spam radar whilst exploiting a trusted member’s fans to make money. The Black Hat Marketer finds information about a specific member from an outside online source and uses their name, photo and information to replicate account. They use the person’s college and year group to add friends to their account. These friends – thinking it is who it should be – accept the fake profile as a friend. In order to pass itself off as a legitimate account, the thief communicates with these new friends just as if it was the real person. They market the person’s website, talk about high school and do all they can to imitate the person they are impersonating. As more and more friends begin to engage with the fake account the Black Hat Marketer begins to monetize it; doing quizzes and inviting his friends to do the same, or emailing out invites to join groups he makes money from.

This tactic is very hard to stop and while it is so easy to execute and make money online from, Black Hat Marketers will continue to implement it. There is not a lot a user can do once their account is stolen. However, if you want to learn how I did it you can view how here. Facebook’s new privacy changes may sound good, but they do not influence the threats that plague Facebook security, and as more marketers latch onto this, Facebook will need to come up with more effective ways of preventing these serious offenses from occurring. Below I have included a video which you can watch. I filmed this video as the thief took advantage of my identity on Facebook.

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The Author:

Sam Bakker has been a successful online business owner since he first began his first electronic equipment e-commerce store working out of his parents bedroom 7 years ago. Sam now runs his own internet marketing consulting company which works actively with large online businesses to formulate and implement successful marketing strategies.

Add Your Comment

  • http://twitter.com/fredchannel Fred

    Good post. Thanks for sharing Sam! It’s true you have no control over the other user’s profile or page, however you can immediately click on on “Report / block this person” (or page) and you can follow the steps in order to solve the problem.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    What’s entirely shocking about this is how easy it appears to be to do. Thanks for bringing to our collective attention, better watch out! FB probably needs to get more active in spotting & dealing with this type of abuse.

  • DermotQ

    This highlights a big issue with reputation management in general – Irish Times Editor Geraldine Kennedy had her identity stolen on Twitter recently and built up 600 followers before the scam was revealed – so the report abuse button is damage limitation if you are a major brand. See http://tinyurl.com/2bpw7nx

  • Anonymous

    Scary stuff Sam. That actually gave me a shiver up my spine! So, how can you keep safe??

  • Anonymous

    Hey,

    There is not a lot you can do. How I ended up solving it is I started a group “Help me ban this dude who stole my identity” and invited all my friends to click the “Report/block this person” I think Facebook has a function which automatically pulls the page if a certain amount of people click it. I had 67 people join the group so within about 10 minutes the page was gone. I was lucky though, if I hadn’t have spotted the stolen account who knows what they might have done.

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Hi Sam, firstly I’d like to congratulate and thank you on your blogs as I’m finding them very interesting and informative. Re the Facebook identity theft something similar happened to me but on our business page – Whatswhat.ie. Because it wasn’t a personal page and I had proof of us owning the domain and business name I was able to put a stop to it quite quickly before they had gained anything. It was only because a friend mentioned to me that they were following my “new” business page that I became aware of it. That is the problem unless you check regularly for similar names etc – which we should not have to do. They had my family members following them thinking it was me too. Thank you for making people aware of this con though. Sian

  • Amelia Champion

    Thanks for the info Sam, that’s a bit scarey actually. It’s making want to go and close up everything about my profile right now!