If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time online. You’d like to think that most of the information that you run across is accurate and most of the sites that you visit are transparent and honest. Unfortunately, this is not particularly realistic.
Almost everywhere you go, you’re going to run into fake accounts of some sort or another. That’s why it’s so essential that you learn how to recognize them and don’t let them affect your online behavior.
These days, people are getting much better at creating these fake accounts, but there are almost always ways you can determine if it’s a real person or not. There are a few different places that you can look when you are verifying these online entities. You will find tons of fake accounts on social media platforms.
Dating services are a particularly bad perpetrator. And fake online profiles are often used for scams where people are trying to get your information to try to hack your accounts later.
Link Building Scams
Not all links posted on websites are legitimate. Some may actually work to prompt a download, which could lead to unwanted malware or spyware on your desktop. Ad scanners and blockers can certainly help to prevent some of these, but even with them, there is the possibility of downloading something that
Some have advocated that smart links powered by blockchain may work to prevent this in the future, but for now a standard antivirus software is most likely to do the trick. While a site may look legitimate, there is always the possibility that a nefarious, fake or redirected link may take you to an unwanted place.
Social Media Accounts
It’s impossible to tell how many online social media accounts are fake. Because social media administrators only check so diligently to make sure there’s an actual person behind an account, there may be millions of names and faces online that are essentially fake. One person can make a thousand profiles if they want and populate that person with photos, updates, and any other number of pieces of backing information.
It takes time and energy to continue creating a persona though, so if you look for big holes of inactivity, you can often spot a fake that way.
Another place where you find a lot of fake profiles is on dating services. The best thing that you can do to help companies eliminate this problem is to report fake accounts as soon as you can verify that that’s the issue.
If there is any sort of suspicious behavior that indicates that a person may not be real, and is perhaps even some sort of robotic interaction algorithm, you should find out how to report them to the main website administrator right away. Main admin people have much more of an ability to research the activity of a potentially fake account, and they will remove them from the service as soon as possible.
You may wonder why some people have fake accounts out in the online world at all. Sometimes it is just for entertainment and anonymity. Other times they are trying to hack your accounts by getting information from you that they can use in potential crimes.
As an example, if someone makes a fake account of a person that you know, they may ask you for personal data. If you give them this data not knowing that this isn’t your friend, they can hack into your account and potentially commit crimes like identity theft or other types of fraud.
Staying safe online is both easier and more difficult than it has ever been. If we truly wish to protect ourselves in the long run, it is likely going to be best to make sure we are keeping up on the latest software, but also being vigilant about where we go and how we react to others on the world wide web.