If your Facebook friends have been posting warnings about duplicate accounts on their statuses recently, you’re not alone. It seems that these claims have resurfaced after a months-long hiatus, but this isn’t exactly a new warning. It seems like a twist on a claim that’s been around for years.
Facebook accounts being duplicated
The new version of this warning goes something like this:
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Alost all the Facebook accounts are being duplicated. Do not accept a second invitation with my name. I don’t have two profiles!”
The warnings often have emoji in them this time around, including the yellow triangle symbol with the exclamation point before and after “alert.” Some of the newest versions also include the red circle symbol with a line through it which usually means don’t do something, or in this case, don’t accept a second friend request from the same person.
Previous versions of this warning usually start off something like, “Facebook accounts are being duplicated at an alarming rate…”
Warning dates back years
This warning about duplicate accounts dates back to at least 2012 and keeps popping up every so often, according to Snopes, a website which tries to debunk myths. In this case, what we have isn’t really a myth, as it’s partially true. Some users have found that their accounts have been copied, with those responsible copying their picture and even details from their real profiles and then creating a second account with their name.
However, this isn’t a new problem, and it seems highly unlikely that “almost all” Facebook accounts are being duplicated, given that the social network has well over a billion users. No one really knows how many accounts on the social network are fake, although various attempts at measurement have been made through the years.
Facebook shuts down thousands of fake accounts
Perhaps one of the reasons the duplicate account warning has appeared again is because Facebook has just announced new efforts at combating spam and fake accounts. In a post on Friday, the social network said it had shut down tens of thousands of fake accounts to disrupt a spam operation it has been battling for the last six months. The company said the spam operation consisted fake likes and comments appearing to originate from accounts that are located in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and a few other countries.
Facebook also said that most of the activity didn’t come through traditional methods of creating large numbers account but rather through “more sophisticated means that try to mask the fact that the accounts are part of the same coordinated operation.” The company said the spammers “used tricks to avoid detection, including redirecting their traffic through ‘proxies’ that disguised their location.”
In this case, it sounds like the social network is shutting down accounts that were created purely to spread spam, so account duplication may not be part of this group’s modus operandi. Nonetheless, the problem of fake accounts has long been a problem for the social network and probably will continue to be for a long time to come, despite its continuing efforts to better identify fake or duplicate accounts.