Can you calm down with the frantic status updates… your Facebook is probably not hacked, Margaret. Seriously. It’s all one big hoax and by re-sharing bogus information, you’re kinda just making it worse.
The bogus message usually goes along the lines of: “Hi….I actually got another friend request from you yesterday…which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. Good Luck.”
This is just a hoax, you guys. It was probably started to cause fear/chaos. I’m sure most of you are aware of the cloning scam that had been rife in previous months. But Facebook officials say that there has been no serious increase of cloned accounts. (I’ve added links to various articles below.)
For those who don’t know, the Facebook cloning scam takes place when someone steals your profile photo and other information, to create a phony Facebook profile. The scammer sends friend requests to your friends list (using the fake profile), and uses the fake account to send scam messages. This is not the same as hacking your account, since the scammer does not have your log in details. They are basically just making a fake profile, to scam your friends/family with. Not cool, I know.
To check if your account has been cloned, do a Facebook search, using your name. If more than one profile appears, chances are, you’ve been cloned. Simply click on the “Report this profile” button and the account will be removed in 24 hours.
How to protect your Facebook account from cloning
I’m sure that after receiving the gazillion messages urging you to not accept duplicate friend requests, you’re kinda wondering if you should be doing something towards making your Facebook profile a bit more protected. Fair enough. Here are a few safety measures that you can put in place, to safe guard your Facebook account:
1. Do a “Privacy Checkup” by clicking on the “Lock” icon on the top right of your Facebook profile. You want to make sure that all your information is set to “Friends” or “Only Me” to ensure that scammers (who are not friends with you on Facebook) cannot see your information. So yes, that means making sure that none of your privacy settings are set to “Public“.
2. Once you’ve done that, double check that your Facebook information is not set to “Public“. Open accounts are easy targets for those dreaded cloning scammers. To change this click at the top right of any Facebook page and choose “Settings“. Select “Privacy” from the left menu.
3. Hide your friends list so that those naughty scammers can’t see who you are friends with. To do this, open your profile, click on “Friends” and then click on the pencil icon on the right hand side to “Edit Privacy“. Make sure to select the “Only me” option in the “Who can see your friends list” drop down.
4. A biggie for me (since someone actually stole my pics and pretended to be me for, like, years) is the privacy settings on your photos. Even though Facebook won’t allow you to hide your Profile and Cover pics, you can still safeguard your albums by selecting the audience for each image, individually. (This kinda tackles the whole “should I share my kids photos on social media” worry as well.) You can also select the audience for albums as well.
5. Don’t accept Friend Requests from people you don’t know! I think this speaks for itself.
6. Once you’ve updated your privacy settings, you can view your profile as “Public” to see what your Facebook looks like to somebody who is not on your friends list. simply click the “Lock” icon and then click on “Who can see my stuff.” Then choose “View as” to see what the public sees when they view your timeline.
7. Once you are happy that your Facebook has been safeguarded against prying eyes, tell your friends how to do this too! I mean, sure it feels great to share a frantic status update, with the hopes that you are protecting loved ones against possible scammers. But it’s does nothing except cause havoc and a misinformed public.
Rather arm your friends and fam with info on how to protect themselves against possible scammers! Yes you may do so by resharing this post. You’re welcome.
For more information check out these articles:
What is Facebook cloning and how can I protect myself from it
Warnings of cloned accounts going viral
How to tell if your Facebook has been hacked
Your Facebook account has not been cloned