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How to detect and report a fake social media account
Social Media
7 mins

How to detect and report a fake social media account

Table of Contents:

    With virtually everyone—both businesses and individuals—now on social media, naturally, a huge number of bad actors are also on the platform, looking for opportunities to exploit these social media users in one way or another.

    One of the most common malicious activities performed by these bad actors is creating fake accounts on social media networks. After all, creating a new Instagram account or Facebook page is very easy and free, so it’s no surprise that these bad actors take advantage of it. 

    Cybercriminals and bad actors may set up fake profiles impersonating your brand for various malicious reasons, including but not limited to:

    • Divert traffic away from your page (i.e., to a competitor’s page) or steal traffic by riding on your brand’s reputation
    • Scam your clients or customers, for example, via a phishing scheme to steal their confidential information or account credentials
    • Posing as brands while selling counterfeit goods or not delivering the goods at all

    As you can see, when bad actors impersonate your brand, it can significantly hurt your reputation in the long term and even permanently. 

    In this guide, we will learn:

    •  How to protect your business from impersonation on social media 
    • How to detect and report fake accounts on major social networks.

    Without further ado, let us begin right away.

    Dealing with a fake Facebook page or profile

    Despite its seemingly waning popularity, especially among younger users, Facebook is still the most active social network, with more than 2.9 billion monthly active users as of July 2022 and more than 1 billion daily active users.

    This popularity of the platform, as well as the diversity of the user base (i.e., many Facebook users aren’t very tech savvy and may be tricked by fake accounts), have invited many impersonators targeting both businesses and public figures on the platform, so any brand who has a presence on Facebook should actively monitor the presence of these fake accounts and protect their reputation.

    However, although Facebook is highly active in taking down these pages, unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any dedicated way of identifying fake pages on its own but instead relies on reports from Facebook’s massive user base and communities. 

    This means that brands should be proactive in monitoring Facebook to identify fake pages and profiles impersonating them, and this can become an issue if you don’t have the means or manpower to monitor the platform.

    Detecting fake pages and profiles on Facebook manually 

    There are three basic methods you can use to manually try to identify and take down impersonating Pages:

    1. Leveraging customer reports

    This is a viable option you can try if you are an established brand with a sizable number of loyal customers.

    Encourage your customers or clients to report any fake pages or profiles impersonating your brand they stumble across by commenting on your own profile or sending a DM/email. You can do this while also educating your customers about the common scams performed by fraudsters via these fake pages, so they can report to you as soon as they’ve seen a red flag.

    2. Google search

    You can use a simple Google search in your attempt to find impersonating pages or Facebook profiles by following these simple steps:

    1. Type the following search query to Google’s search bar: “brand name (space) site: facebook.com” or “site: facebook.com (space) brand name“
    2. Review the search results. You may need to go beyond the first page to identify potential impersonations.
    3. Open any suspicious links. Some of these results may be valid pages that have rightly mentioned your business, so you may need to confirm each suspicious page manually.

    3. Reverse image search

    This method is especially useful when your copyrighted images or unique photos are being used on these fake pages or profiles. 

    Using copyrighted images is actually a very common tactic used by bad actors to make their fake pages seem legitimate. After all, it’s very easy to right-click and save your images on photos on your website.

    To perform a reverse image search and find these stolen images, you can use Google Images (or other reverse image search tools like TinEye or PimEyes.) Assuming you are using Google Images, you can follow these steps:

    1. Go to images.google.com, and you’ll arrive at Google Images’ main interface.
    2. Click the Camera icon in the search bar.
    3. You’ll be given a choice either to upload an image or to copy-paste the link (URL) of an image you’ve uploaded. Press enter or click “Search” after you’ve uploaded your image.
    4. Filter the search results by adding the “site: facebook.comto the search box so you’ll only get results from Facebook.
    5. Review any suspicious pages and images you get from the search results.
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    How to report a fake Facebook page or Profile

    Once you’ve identified any fake pages or profiles impersonating your business, you can report them to Facebook to get the Page or profile taken down.

    Facebook has gone a long way toward making this reporting process as easy and seamless as possible, and you can do it from your anywhere, even on your mobile device, quite easily by following these steps:

    1. Head to the Page or profile you’d like to report
    2. On the top right corner of the Page/profile, you should see the three-dots (menu) button; click on it and select Report Page.
    3. Choose Scams and Fake Pages and/or other reasons you see fit.
    4. On the “Help us understand the problem” page, choose “Fake Page” or “pretending to be another business” or another reason as you see fit
    5. On the “Which business or person is this Page pretending to be,” provide the page name or URL of the page it’s impersonating (in this case, your page.)

    You can also report these pages via the mobile app instead of the desktop website and follow mostly similar steps. Facebook will then review the page based on your report and take appropriate actions as they see fit. 

    Dealing with fake Instagram accounts

    Instagram has grown to be one of the most popular and important social networks, with over 1.4 billion users as of July 2022. 

    Obviously, Instagram’s popularity and the fact that creating new accounts on Instagram is very easy and free have also invited bad actors into the platform.

    As we know, Instagram is now owned by Facebook, and so It has a similar approach to Facebook when it comes to fake impersonator accounts: it takes fake accounts very seriously, and reporting/requesting take down is very easy, but it doesn’t have any dedicated team monitoring the existence of fake accounts, and instead relies on community reporting. 

    Detecting fake Instagram accounts manually

    You can use similar approaches we’d use in finding fake Facebook pages to find fake Instagram accounts: leveraging your customer’s reports, Google search, and reverse image search. Just change “site:facebook.com” to “site:instagram.com” when performing a Google search or reverse image search.

    Reporting fake Instagram accounts impersonating your brand

    Instagram offers a dedicated Trademark report form (as well as a copyright report form) for businesses whose IPs are being infringed through impersonation, and you can use it by following these steps:

    • Visit https://help.instagram.com/contact/230197320740525 (Trademark Report Form)
    • Choose “Continue with my trademark report”
    • Choose “I am the rights owner” if you are the owner of the company or “I am reporting on behalf of my organization or client”
    • Insert your contact information (full name, postal address, email address)
    • Provide the name of the rights owner and the link to the rights owner’s official online presence (website, Facebook Page, Instagram account, etc.)
    • If possible, provide a scanned copy of the trademark registration certificate. Alternatively, you can provide a screenshot of the official IP office’s website of your country showing your registration.
    • Provide the details of the content you want to report, including the links (URLs) leading to the specific content you are reporting.
    • Provide an electronic signature matching your full name, and click send

    If the account you are reporting is also selling counterfeit goods, choose “I’ve found content that I believe offers counterfeit goods” at the beginning of the form, or go here: https://help.instagram.com/contact/751729384978711 (Counterfeit Report Form)

    On the other hand, if you’d like to report accounts that impersonate you as an individual, you can report them by filling out this form. You can use this same form to report accounts impersonating others, including celebrities.

    Using Instagram’s Mobile App to Report Fake Accounts

    If you are currently without access to Instagram’s website for one reason or another, you can use the Instagram app to report fake accounts on Instagram.

    This is less effective than using the web form (as discussed above) since you can’t provide any evidence and can only submit relatively limited information. However, you can still use the app to submit a quick report, and if the fraudulent activity is obvious enough, Instagram may take down the profile quickly enough.

    To report Instagram profiles via the web app, you can follow these steps:

    • Go to the profile you want to report, then tap the three dots at the top right corner of the profile. 
    • Choose Report, then tap Report account (the bottom option)
    • Choose It’s pretending to be someone else
    • When asked, “who is this account pretending to be?” Choose the appropriate option. You can choose “A business or organization” if the account is impersonating your brand
    • Tap Submit Report

    As you can see, the reporting process via the Instagram app is much simpler, but you can’t provide too much information. According to Instagram, they will either leverage technology (AI) or a review team to investigate the reported profile and take the necessary action accordingly. 

    Dealing with fake Twitter profiles

    You have several options for dealing with a fake Twitter profile impersonating your brand:

    • File this form and then choose “An account is pretending to be or represent my company, brand, or organization,” then provide the information required.
    • You can also report any intellectual property issues by using this form while logged in to your Twitter account. You can choose “I’d like to report an issue with counterfeit goods on Twitter” if someone created a fake Twitter account selling counterfeit goods while impersonating your business.
    • If your sensitive/confidential information has been posted on Twitter, you can fill out this form to report the situation.

    The benefits of automated Social Media protection services like Red Points 

    All the major social networks (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others) take impersonations seriously, and all of them offer easy, seamless, and reliable ways to report these fake profiles. 

    In most cases, these platforms will also take action quickly with every report and will take down any fake profile as long as there’s substantial evidence of impersonation.

    However, creating new accounts on these social media platforms is very easy and free, so the potential volume of these impersonation attempts on different social media can be overwhelming. 

    This is why rather than relying on manual monitoring and review, it’s best to invest in high-quality Social Media Protection Software. .

    Red Points Can help protect your brand from cybersquatting in three simple steps:

    • Real-time detection of social media impersonation by scouring the search engines, domain databases, and social networks.
    • Reporting the fake social media account and requesting for takedown by automatically contacting social media platform while providing adequate proof
    • Stopping repeat infringers by uncovering their identity and collecting data that may be required to take legal action.

    What’s next

    In this article, we have discussed how to protect businesses from cybercriminals impersonating them on social media, and especially how to identify and report these fake profiles to request takedowns.

    While the majority, if not all, social media platforms offer an easy way to report these fake profiles, monitoring the different networks for these impersonating profiles can be very challenging and time-consuming, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have any dedicated team for monitoring. 

    This is why it’s best to invest in a Social Media Protection Software to facilitate automated 24/7 monitoring and reporting systems.

    If you still need more detailed information on how to report and take down fake impersonating profiles on different social networks, below are more guides from us:

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