Over the last five days many South African Facebook profiles have been cloned (creating a second identical profile of your own) and used to solicit money from contacts. It is a topic that made news worldwide, with hundreds suffering identity theft. The perpetrators, who duplicate your account (your contact information, education, your posts, your comments), can make comments, add pictures and even communicate to your friends on your behalf. Some have even gone as far as blocking real profiles blaming claiming them to be fraudulent.
There are a few easy steps you can take to prevent being cloned.
1. Never accept friend request from people you personally do not know. If you do not know Clippie Van De Baksteen, do not accept his friend request. Now is a good time to do some spring cleaning and delete everyone you do not know or do not talk to from your friends list.
2. Next you’ll want to setup your Facebook privacy settings. You can do this by clicking on the Gear icon (on the top right of the blue bar), selecting “Privacy settings” and selecting Friends next to “Who can see my stuff” and “Who can see your future posts”. It is also a good idea to select “Timeline and Tagging” and change all the settings to “Friends” only.
3. You should also change the privacy settings on all your photo albums, only allowing friends to see them.
4. Watch the movie The Social Network backwards three times in a row. It helped me.
If your account has already been cloned, it would be a good idea to visit the Facebook Help Centre and report the fraud. If you are unsure on whether or not you are a victim of cloning, post a comment requesting your friends to inform you of the fake account.