An old Facebook scam involving the practice of cloning is rearing its ugly head yet again. If you spend any time at all on the social network, you may have noticed a lot of your friends sharing a warning which claims that nearly all Facebook accounts are being hacked. The warning goes on to offer steps to supposedly avoid becoming a victim of the scam, which is called Facebook Cloning.
What is Facebook Cloning?
Facebook Cloning basically involves the practice of someone using your name, profile picture and other publicly available information from your Facebook profile to set up a new profile with the same picture. The perpetrator then seeks to connect to your friends, who accept your invitation because they think the fake account is yours, even though they are already friends with you.
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The Facebook Cloning warning advises people to copy and paste the same warning onto their profiles rather than forwarding it or sharing it. It also states that the person who posted it has no intention of creating a new profile and tells friends not to accept a second friend request from them. It seems that Facebook users in some parts of the world are starting to see this warning go around again, according to Express, although users in not all regions may be seeing it.
Facebook Cloning déjà vu
The problem with this warning is that it’s partially true and partially not. It’s also a rehash of an old post that pops up every now and then on Facebook. The Snopes article on Facebook Cloning dates to December 2012, and ValueWalk covered the practice the following year, so this is hardly a new warning. However, the problem isn’t nearly as widespread as it would have you believe. It states that all or nearly all Facebook accounts have been cloned, but this simply isn’t the case. Further, the warning references this as a hack, which isn’t accurate because it doesn’t involve hackers breaking into accounts.
It’s pretty easy to tell when an account you’re friended with has been taken over or is not being operated by your friend. For example, if the account claims that your friend is stranded in a foreign country and asks for money, there’s a good chance it’s not actually your friend, although some Facebook users still fall for it. Aside from extorting money from unsuspecting victims, pirates may also collect information on the friends of the person whose account they copied, whether through their posts or profiles, or even through direct messages.
How to protect your account
The warning is also misleading in advising people that they need to copy and paste the status on their profiles to protect themselves. Instead, the best way is to check your privacy settings to make sure that your personal information is hidden from people you aren’t friends with. If you discover that your account has been cloned, it’s easy to report it. Just go to the cloned profile, click on the cover photo, and then choose Report to tell Facebook about it.