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LinkedIn puts the magnifying glass on fake profiles, other social networks too

LinkedIn has issued the emergency call. In this professional social network have increased the number of cases of fake profiles linked, above all, to companies recruiting personnel. The alarm in the digital channel highlights a situation that has been happening in other high-impact social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, where the phenomenon is more common and has been related to the spread of fake news or even as a means to carry out classic crimes such as fraud, threats or extortion, among others. 

In March 2019 Instagram and Facebook announced the deletion of thousands of accounts fraudulent organizations pretending to be legitimate media organizations, many of them in charge of transmitting false news, especially those related to the crisis in Venezuela. 

Multiple mobiles can be used to massively create fake profiles in these digital channels. What is usually common in the action is the intention to deceive the community to obtain a particular benefit. According to studies published by Symantec, an increasing number of hackers are using fake LinkedIn accounts to target active professionals. 

In general, the modus operandi of these groups is based on posing as recruiters of personal talent.The network is a very popular channel for the recruitment of new recruits, who are gradually studying the organizational structure of companies to take valuable information about their employees and managers. In a network like Linkedln this scheme is perfect for usurpation, as many of the channel's users are waiting to be contacted by recruiters. In this way it is easy to explain the success that fake profiles have had in this network, gathering a large number of contacts.

In light of the emergence of these fake accounts, LinkedIn has initiated a plan to to check the authenticity of profiles and remove those that do not meet the truthfulness standards. The information provided by the Symantec study shows that fake profiles copy the content and data of authentic profiles, even frequently using the images and photographs.

How to detect a fake LinkedIn profile

To detect a fake account you need to use common sense and be aware of the details. Take into consideration the following aspects:

  • There are inconsistencies in the information presented.
  • Very common names and surnames may be used, not very credible or with misspellings.
  • Often the professional information presented is usually short, as it takes time to place data of this nature that appear to be truthful. They need a good previous research.
  • The profile excerpt can be very brief.
  • The photos or images are usually very perfect or elaborate, denoting an image that could possibly be taken from an image bank.
  • They may have a large number of contacts, since collecting them is usually a specialty of those who perform this task.
  • They usually do not contain recommendations in the profile.
  • It is a profile with no interactions with other users.

In case of detecting a fake LinkedIn profile, these are the steps to follow to report the account:

  1. Access the profile to be reported.
  2. Click on the "More" box located below the number of contacts.
  3. Select "Report/Block".
  4. Select "Report this profile".
  5. Choose the reason for the complaint in "Give us more information".
  6. Click "Send".

Fake profiles in other popular networks

As mentioned above, in other high-impact social networks, fake profiles, fake news, stalkers and harassers have also been a problem, as they have circumvented the security measures implemented by the platforms. In the case of Facebook, it is important to take into account the following recommendations to identify possible identity thieves, especially if they try to link to the digital channels of companies:

  • The photoIf an account has only the profile picture, without any other image despite having been created a long time ago, it could be a fake account. Another sign to be suspicious is that the profile picture is generic, or of a famous person or some other element that hides the personal identity of the person behind the account.
  • Rate of updatesThe little or no update or activity of a Facebook account can also raise suspicions as to the identity of its owner. Generally, a real account maintains constant activity and interaction on the network.
  • FriendshipsWhen an account's friendships do not seem real (i.e. they are profiles where the identity is not clearly identified), or does not belong to any private group on Facebook, it may be a fake account used for other unreliable purposes. Even when the friends only belong to the same sex (usually the opposite) it is likely to be an account used for dating.
  • General informationAnother way to identify a fake account is by locating the general information in the profile, i.e. academic data, birthday, family members, occupation, etc. The absence of this information could be considered suspicious.
  • Google VerificationTo identify a fake Facebook account, you can google the profile picture of the account by entering the image directly into the search engine. The results may give indications about the veracity.

To report a fake Facebook account

Access the profile biography, click on "settings" and select Report / Block. Then click on "Send a report" and follow the procedure according to the type of report. Here is the link of the Facebook Whistleblower Center.

In the case of other social networks such as Instagram, the recommendations to identify a fake account are usually similar. The behaviors that can give clear signals about the veracity or not of the account are the following:

  • The profile picture: When the profile picture alludes to a character or a particular element in which the user's identity is not precisely displayed, the easiest thing to do is to check on Google (as in the case of Facebook) where the image comes from and how many accounts have the same picture.
  • The user does not converse or interact with others. In the case of any type of interactive activity, it is limited to talking about a single specific topic and does not offer much personal information. It is also important to note that these users do not interact with friends or family on their account.
  • Quality and quantity of followersThese types of accounts tend to have few followers and many of them tend to be fake as well. It is also important to note that they usually do not have any followers in common with you.
  • Eye-catching photos: In the posts of these accounts are usually published very striking photographs, to capture the attention of followers. However, their data is unreliable. 
  • Little activity: As with fake profiles on Facebook, on Instagram, non-real accounts maintain very little activity, i.e., they do not usually give "likes" or comment on other publications.

Here is the information to report fake accounts on Instagram.

In Alan Aldana & Abogados we are users of several social platforms, and we have incorporated in our services to our clients the advice related to the correct and legal use of social networks, as well as the corresponding protocol for identity theft, information and use of false profiles for various crimes.

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