Con Watch: The Dangers of Facebook Cloning

Every Facebook user has seen the plea from a friend: “Don’t accept any friend requests from me. I’ve been hacked!” Steve Weisman explains what’s really going on.


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Steve Weisman is a lawyer, college professor, author, and one of the country’s leading experts in cybersecurity, identity theft, and scams. See Steve’s other Con Watch articles.

Lately I have been getting more and more friend requests on Facebook from people with whom I am already Facebook friends. Many think that their friend’s Facebook account has been hacked, but that’s not true. If someone had hacked your friend’s account, there would be no need for them to send you a new friend request. What’s going on is that your friend’s account has been cloned: someone has set up a Facebook account in your friend’s name in order to trick people into trusting messages that they post.

For the first quarter of 2022, Facebook removed 1.8 billion pieces of content, including cloned accounts. Facebook tries to remove the cloned accounts when it becomes aware of them, but they consistently spring up again soon thereafter.

Scammers cloning Facebook and other social media accounts rely on the fact that you will be more likely to trust posts and messages that appear to come from your friends. They exploit that trust by attempting to lure you into clicking on malware-infected links, providing personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft, or persuading you to fall for a phony contest or some other scam where your trust ends up being used against you.

If you receive a friend request from someone with whom you are already Facebook friends, let your friend know that their account has been cloned and urge them to alert all of their Facebook friends.

If you find that someone has set up a Facebook account in your name, contact Facebook as soon as possible so they can take action to cancel the phony cloned account.

While cloning doesn’t actually involve hacking your account, there are steps you can take to make your Facebook account more impervious to a variety of attacks.

Review your privacy settings on Facebook to make your account less vulnerable to hackers and cloners. Many people make personal information available on their Facebook and other social media accounts. Scammers will harvest this information and use it to clone your account or fashion personally tailored spear phishing emails and text messages that you may trust because they have personal information about you.

Use a strong password. It is important to have a strong, unique password for each of your online accounts. A strong password will have capital letters, small letters, and symbols. A good way to pick a strong password is to take a phrase such as IDon’tLikePasswords which has both capital letters, small letters, and a symbol, and then strengthen it with a couple of other symbols. In this example, your base password becomes IDon’tLikePasswords!!! Then you can adapt this base password for each of your accounts so it will be both complex and easy to remember. For instance, your Facebook password could be IDon’tLikePasswords!!!Face.

Enable two factor authentication, which will dramatically strengthen the security of your Facebook account. With dual factor authentication, when you sign in to your account and type in your password, a code is sent to your cell phone. You must use this code to gain access to your account. If you have two factor authentication, even someone who has your password will not be able to access your account.


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  1. F—-book is bad news all around Steve obviously, per this ENTIRE article. I’ve never been on this social media site and never would, yet I have to delete texts everyday from this or that person who claims to be my F’book “friend”.

    I simply delete them, but find it weird nonetheless. I’m only on Twitter: that’s it. For the Post, and to communicate with certain stars like Lydia Look I’ve met, and have a rapport with.

    No worries about the above insanity whatsoever. For people that are into Mark’s monstrous creation, have at it. Nice toupee though.


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