Another day and another friend posts to Facebook that their account has been “hacked” and warns friends not to accept messages or friend requests from them.
First of all, the account has likely been cloned, not hacked. While those scammers often find profile information on the dark web, typically Facebook users make it easy for someone who knows what they’re doing to create or clone their Facebook profile and information.
Here are a few common mistakes people make that give scammers the ability (and desire) to clone their profiles and annoy their friends:
Accepting friend requests from people you don’t know or friends you’re already friends with.
Scammers create fake or cloned accounts to build their own network of potential victims. Everyone on your friend list and even those following you can see your profile information and when you post updates. It’s easy for them to copy your profile photo and information you’ve added to create a copycat account and build a list of hundreds or thousands of other potential victims and the cycle continues.
Go through your friend list. If you don’t know them unfriend them. And look at who’s following you. They’re probably getting your information too.
Making your friends list visible to everyone.
Scammers look for accounts where they can see all of their friends, otherwise, they’ll choose someone else.
Under who can see your friends list, choose only friends or friends of friends, or better yet, only me.
Who can send you friend requests?
It’s public by default, but you can change it to only friends of friends. If you’ve had your account cloned, you may never see it because the scammers usually block the person they’ve cloned so ask your friends to report it.
If your account has been cloned, changing your password probably isn’t necessary as the spammer just got your information from your public Facebook profile rather than hacking your account. It doesn’t hurt to change the password though.
Facebook consistently removes more than 5 billion fake and cloned profiles each year. Meta says it has over 35,000 employees around the world charged with identifying and deleting fake and cloned Facebook profiles.