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Despite the newer social media platforms like Instagram or Tiktok, Facebook remains one of the most popular social media networks in 2022, with almost 3 billion monthly active users.
With the popularity of the platform and the massive user base, many businesses are still considering Facebook as a part of their online marketing strategy. Even in 2022, Facebook is still very effective as a marketing channel, whether to build awareness, generate leads, or even to encourage direct sales on the platform.
However, with the fact that the massive number of established brands active on Facebook, there are also many bad actors, scammers, and cybercriminals looking to exploit the platform’s popularity in many different ways, including:
So, if you are a business with an online presence on Facebook, how can you protect your brand integrity? What can you do if a scammer imitates your brand on Facebook?
In this guide, we will explore how to report frauds on Facebook, how to take down fraudulent pages impersonating your brand, and several other relevant topics.
Let us begin this guide right away.
As a brand owner, especially if your brand has a registered trademark, we must first observe the legality of fraud Facebook profiles impersonating your brand.
Is the practice considered legal or illegal by Facebook?
The short answer is no; if a brand has a registered trademark, then Facebook is obligated to follow US federal trademark laws as well as relevant trademark laws in your state, and impersonating a trademarked brand with substantial similarity is considered illegal by the US federal government.
Meaning, that acts of trademark infringement, including the creation of a fraudulent Facebook page impersonating a registered brand, are strictly prohibited on Facebook.
If you discover your brand being impersonated by others on Facebook, reporting the page is well within your rights; in fact, Facebook is obligated to take action, whether it be to stop the infringement or to return the infringed page to the legitimate owner.
While this situation isn’t ideal, as you should definitely register your brand and brand elements subject to trademarks or copyrights as early as possible, Facebook also adheres to the common law trademark rights.
This means that it has the right to close pages and ban users that perform infringements on unregistered trademarked IPs, which can include individual/personal identity.
Meaning, that if you, for one reason or another, can’t or haven’t registered your IPs for trademarks, you can still report fraud pages impersonating your identity to Facebook.
With Facebook being such a “rich” platform where you can technically upload any type of content, copyright and trademark infringements on Facebook can happen in many different ways.
With that being said, here are the most common ways perpetrators can infringe your copyright or trademark on Facebook:
With billions of Facebook profiles, accounts, and pages on the platform, finding those who have infringed your trademarks can be very challenging in practice, especially if you don’t know where to look.
Thus, here are some actionable tips you can use to monitor and identify bad actors impersonating you on Facebook:
Arguably the easiest yet most effective method you can use is to simply search for your brand name (or your individual name, depending) on the Facebook platform.
Fortunately, Facebook has a pretty robust and versatile search function, and you can also try to include phrase variations related to your brand, including potential typos (i.e., Facebok instead of Facebook).
Once you’ve performed this search, Facebook should return your query with a search results page listing all the pages that may have impersonated your brand intentionally or unintentionally.
Review these results thoroughly. Remember that just because an account or a page has your brand name; doesn’t necessarily mean they have malicious intent to impersonate your brand. Assess other factors like the content on the page (i.e., whether there are similarities with your own), their geographical location (at least, where they claim to be), interactions with other Facebook users, and so on.
An important consideration is that sophisticated scammers will keep the habit of blocking your brand (as a trademark owner) from searching about them. So, you may try using another Facebook account to perform the search and bypass the block.
You can use Google Images or other search engines allowing image search to perform a reverse search: checking whether there are profiles and Facebook pages that have posted photos of your brand, product photos, or other images related to your business on the platform.
While, in theory, this approach can be effective, in practice, it is very time-consuming to do and will only be even more challenging as your brand grows bigger.
While hashtags might not be as prominent on Facebook as it is on other social media networks like Twitter or Instagram, you can still leverage hashtags and Facebook’s algorithm to search for fraud Facebook pages and profiles.
This hashtag search method is especially effective for scammers that offer goods online (i.e., selling counterfeit goods or fake service subscriptions), since typically these scammers will also use product-specific hashtags to offer the goods.
However, since obviously there will be legitimate sellers (i.e., your competitors), consumers, and vendors also using the hashtags, the actual process of finding this perpetrator can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
The most effective way to protect your brand online on Facebook and other social media networks is to leverage a Facebook Impersonation Removal Software like Red Points’.
Red Points will help your brand monitor and scan through thousands of Facebook pages, profiles, web pages, and other social media networks every single minute to quickly identify fraud pages impersonating your brand.
With a real-time brand protection solution like Red Points’, you can effectively eliminate the need to perform time-consuming monitoring and manual searches when attempting to find scammers and impersonating pages.
Faster, real-time detection means that you can quickly take the required action, report these fraud pages, and take them down as soon as possible before they can leave significant damage to your brand reputation.
You can report any pages or profiles you suspect of impersonating you or your brand on Facebook, even if you currently don’t have a Facebook account or page.
If you happen to have a personal Facebook account or a dedicated Facebook business page for your brand, then you can easily report potentially impersonating profiles or pages by following these steps:
If you don’t have any Facebook account (and don’t want to register), or if you lossed your account in one way or another (including if it’s hacked by the impersonator), then you can fill out this form to report the impersonating fraud profile or pages.
Alternatively, you can report the impersonating account via Messenger by doing the following:
On the Messenger App:
On messenger.com (desktop browser):
After you report an imposter profile or page, Facebook will manually review your report and take the appropriate action.
According to Facebook, your name and personal information will be kept private during such reports, and they will not divulge your information with the alleged impersonator you’re reporting. So, you don’t have to worry about this issue.
In an ideal scenario, Facebook will confirm that the account is impersonating you (or someone else) and will immediately take the required steps toward removing the profile or page. However, how long the actual process will take may vary, and unfortunately, Facebook isn’t clear about the actual review process and how long it may take.
After you’ve filed a report, Facebook may also advise you to block the impersonating account from your profile or page to prevent them from collecting more information from your page to use on this fraud profile or page.
If you submit a report for impersonation on your page/Profile and you don’t hear any feedback from Facebook after 48 hours, then the first thing you should do is not panic and try resubmitting the form.
Don’t forget that there’s always the possibility that your report form wasn’t submitted properly, or there might have been technical errors, so your form wasn’t properly received by Facebook.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t offer phone-based customer support, so you can’t report or follow up the report via a phone call. While Facebook does have two operational phone numbers: 650-543-4800 and 650-308-7300, dialing these numbers will prompt a pre-recorded message advising you about Facebook’s online support.
If you are still not sure, you can refer to Facebook’s Help Center page for more information so you can figure out your options.
Keep in mind, however, that there’s always the possibility that the Facebook support team simply needs more time to evaluate whether the impersonation or other trademark infringements actually occurred, in which case you will need to be patient.
Another layer of protection against impersonation on Facebook is by getting a verification stick for your page, the famous blue tick on your profile or page. This way, your clients or customers can more easily recognize your authentic page. Even if the imposter page or profile is not taken down yet, your customers will know it’s a fraudulent Facebook page since it doesn’t have the blue tick.
You can request a Blue Verification page here by following these steps:
Facebook will send you a notification when it reviews your verification request, and the verification process can take anywhere between 48 hours if you are lucky to up to 45 days. During this period, before your application is either approved or rejected, you are not allowed to submit another request.
After you’ve reported the impersonating profile or page, can you find out the culprit behind it?
Unfortunately, Facebook will not reveal the identity of the perpetrator even after they’ve taken down the page or profile for privacy purposes. In most cases, you also won’t be given access to the impersonating account or page even if you are the legitimate trademark owner.
So, if you really want to find who’s behind the attack, you have to do it on your own, and while it can be challenging, it’s not impossible to do.
Here are a few pointers:
If the impersonation attempt has caused you any kind of financial loss or otherwise, it might be worth it to pursue the real culprit and take legal action. Red Points can help provide the data needed to file an official complaint in the event of legal disputes.
Red Points’ advanced Brand Protection Software is designed to help brands protect their online reputation and the integrity of their trademarks, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property.
While dealing with trademark infringement on Facebook and taking down fake accounts can be quite complex, Red Points can help in gathering evidence and automatically sending takedown notices. There is no longer any need to manually search for impersonators or waste time trying to track down individuals that are intentionally trying to stay hidden after they’ve gotten away with a scam that’s hurt your reputation.