Facebook’s crazy Catch-22 lets imposters steal your identity

Found someone pretending to be you on Facebook? Getting rid of the faker can be a lot harder than you think.


Facebook’s fake-a-palooza has entered a new realm of absurdity.

It starts like this: Yesterday Jennifer X. opened up her email and found a Facebook friend request from her husband Andrew. This was puzzling to her because Andrew already had a Facebook account, and they were of course already friends. She thought maybe he’d forgotten his password and created a new account or was testing something out. She clicked the link.

Sure enough, there was a Timeline with Andrew’s name and a profile photo of her husband and his sister as children – the same picture Andrew was using on his real account. Otherwise, though, the faux account was blank.

She told her husband about it. But when he tried to check it out for himself, Facebook told him that page could not be found. Why? Because the imposter had blocked him, making Fake Andrew’s page invisible to Real Andrew.

When Jennifer went to report the fake, she discovered Facebook’s Catch-22.  The only way to report an imposter on Facebook is for the real owner of the account to go to the imposter’s Timeline, click the downward arrow in the settings box, and select Report/Block. But because Real Andrew couldn’t see Fake Andrew’s page, he was unable to do that.

So Jennifer tried using the Report/Block process to tell Facebook that Fake Andrew was impersonating her husband. But all that does is send a message to the person whose account has been duplicated, telling them to report the fake using the process I just described. Which, of course, Real Andrew could no longer do.

Maddening, right? It gets worse. You can tell Facebook another account is using a fake name, but your only options are to ask the person to use their real name (not likely in this case) or unfriend/block that person. You could simply submit a report to Facebook telling them it’s a fake, which automatically – and permanently -- blocks you from ever seeing that account. All the other reporting options (the account is annoying, spammy, inappropriate, etc,) have the same result. But then you have no way of knowing what happens after that.

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