Jennifer and Real Andrew were worried Fake Andrew would use his account to scam their friends. Once they reported his account, and it was permanently blocked, they would have no way of knowing what Fake Andrew was up to. They wouldn’t know if Facebook had deleted the account or not. (In my experience, fake accounts can exist for weeks or months after being reported.) So they posted something to their Facebook walls warning their friends not to be duped. But as we now know, only a small percentage of your friends will see everything you post.
Is this insane? Yes it is. Just to confirm Jennifer and Andrew’s story, I created a faux account to impersonate a real one and recreated their steps. Sure enough, Facebook has made it essentially impossible to deal with clever imposters who’ve discovered this trick.
There is, however, one other way to report an imposter to Facebook, by filling out a form on this page.
Here’s the kicker: This option only works if you don’t have a Facebook account. If you do have an account and are logged in, you won’t even see the page I’m talking about. And, of course, you have to provide the URL of the imposter’s account, as well as a copy of a government-issued ID to prove you are the real deal.
So my question: If you’re not on Facebook, how will you find out someone is pretending to be you on Facebook?
I understand Facebook needs to balance a lot of factors here. It needs to be careful to avoid shutting down accounts that aren’t fake or abusive. But this loophole is just nuts.
We don’t know how that account will be used, but it’s unlikely to be for the good of mankind. It could be used to generate fake likes. It could be used to spread spam and malware. It could be used to run pretexting scams where someone pretends to be in distress and tries to milk Andrew’s friends for money. Or it could be used just to systematically destroy Andrew’s reputation by posting horrible things in his name.
Since the scammers decided to friend Andrew’s wife, my money is on the scam gambit. Fortunately for them Jennifer was savvy enough to spot the fake. Others might not be.
Is this really how Facebook operates? I’ve asked them to comment, and will update this post if I hear back.