The Proliferation Of “Fake” On Social Media

I remember years ago I read an article about the rise of fake Instagram accounts that follow those of us on the site, using the avatars of very pretty women. It’s pretty easy to tell these accounts are fake because… well, let’s face the fact that suddenly having a stunning woman with a foreign name following you is pretty suspect. Not only that, but you might get a message saying something like “hello dear” or “I’d love if you sent me a private message”.

nothing fake about this nutella pie!

Whereas that’s a nice pipe dream to believe, knowing my own personal history, I’d be an idiot not to doubt it; so would you. If you need to, you can click on the name and notice there’s only a few images along with a fake link to follow if you want more… trust me, never click on those links.

However, that wasn’t the actual focus in the article. The issue was about people who see these fake accounts, are shooting for higher follower accounts, accept them, probably add them back and try to get more. The narcissism part of it all is the chase for numbers, quality or not, because in some minds numbers equate to some kind of status.

I’m going to address that part first; the point of the article was absolutely correct. I mean, I used to look at my blog’s ranking. Those of us who use Twitter (which isn’t me at the present time) look at how many Twitter followers a person has. We look to see how many people are connected to us on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc; pshaw! lol It’s not total narcissism because, for some people, the more connections they have the better the possibility of making money, even big money.

Yet, there are a lot of people who fall for “fake”, and it’s not always their fault.

I can’t tell you how many blogs I visit (yes, I still visit lots of blogs) where there are tons of spam comments, lots of them, where the blog owner has responded to without recognizing them, or totally ignored because maybe they never respond to comments and are happy for whatever activity they’re getting.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen on Twitter that have tens of thousands of people following them, and when you look at some of the accounts following them you see a lot of bots and accounts with that stupid egg thing (or something even sillier).

Sometimes I look at my numbers and think “man, I wish I could figure out how to make that bigger”. Since I actually know how to do it though, it’s usually a fleeting thought. Y’all know by now that I’m an engager; if there’s no possibility that we’ll ever talk I rarely stick with you for long. Concerning Twitter, if the first time someone wants to talk to me is via a direct message rather than in the open, I’d usually immediately unfollow them unless I had a special reason to stay connected… but it was rare.

One time I happened to have Tweetdeck open; that’s what I used to connect on Twitter. I heard an alert, so I went to check it out. It turned out that someone had liked a post I’d shared a couple of days earlier. Then, over the next 20 minutes or so there were 34 more people who liked the same exact post.

Whereas most people might have been flattered, I’m a bit more skeptical than that. If I had more than 100K people following me and it happened, I might have just passed it off. However, I decided to take a better look for my own edification.

2014-08-01 Castlefest 2014, Cherilyn

Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography via Compfight
she doesn’t want to know you…

What I noticed was that every single account that liked that article had a cartoon avatar. There wasn’t a single real person’s image on any of them. Also, none of them were connected to me, including the first person. When I checked a few of those accounts, I noticed they were following way more people than they had following them. That’s usually a major sign that an account is either fake, or at the least a bit dodgy.

In this case, the idea of narcissism comes back into play, trying to make people feel good and hoping they’ll follow the account back to the profile. You can bet each of them has a link that will take you to either some kind of sales site or spam/malware site. Since I was only looking at a couple of accounts to verify my thoughts, I wasn’t inclined to click on a link to see what it would take me. I’d have had to slap myself silly if I did. 🙂

Although it happens in greater numbers on Twitter and Instagram, there are lots of fake accounts that try to hook up with us on Facebook and even LinkedIn. Many times they don’t have an avatar, and many that do have actually used software to create a fake avatar (it can be hard to determine whether it’s a real person’s face or not). Sometimes you’ll notice the account was recently created. Facebook gets sneakier because sometimes it’s the name of someone you’re already connected to, and you wonder if that person killed their account and came back if it’s someone you haven’t connected with in a while.

I’m not going to denigrate anyone who wants big numbers. Even though it’s not always all it seems to be cracked up to me, if it’s legitimate it can look pretty impressive.

I’m just putting out the warning to watch out for fake accounts no matter which social media platform you’re using, block or report them, and don’t click on links from anyone you don’t know (and sometimes from people you know whose post seems out of character). Be wise and be smart; that’s all I’m asking. 🙂

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015-2022 Mitch Mitchell

10 thoughts on “The Proliferation Of “Fake” On Social Media”

  1. Good advice, as always, Mitch! Are you boycotting Twitter these days? I get a lot of male followers on Instagram who either have private accounts or zero posts. When I don’t acknowledge them, they unfollow me again! Boo Hoo 😉 TikTok is a whole other scene. I have amassed a huge (for me) following there, but many seem to be bots or fake celebrity accounts. Oh well, they have allowed me to add a live link to my profile (you need 1000 followers to do that), so I tolerate them. Facebook has always had issues with fake friend accounts. It’s a good idea to add two-factor authentication. I did that recently, after getting several emails from Facebook about requesting a change of password. I didn’t, so obviously someone was trying to hack my account.

    1. Debbie, I started boycotting Twitter after that South African man put in a bid for the site & it looked like he was going to buy it… which I never believed, but I took a stand and I’m staying with it until he negotiates a buyout and goes away.

      I hate admitting this, but I’ve never complied with the two-factor authentication programs. I’m not sure why I’m against it, but I’ve been having that same Facebook issue that you were having. My password is 27 characters long, so I know I’m frustrating whomever is trying to take it away from me. I have that options for a lot of sites, including my business email accounts; I need to think about why I’ve hated the thought of it all these years.

  2. Hahaha! Sounds like your Twitter boycott will go on for a while! 😀

    I’m not a fan of two-factor authentication because it’s a pain in the ass, and I am only using it with Facebook, for now, plus the financial institutions that insist on it. I don’t mind as much when they send the code to email – it’s the text message ones that take too much time to deal with. Great idea to have such a long, complicated password! Do you remember it or is it saved somewhere?

    1. I have two files where I keep my passwords, one on my computer and one in Dropbox… both the alias types of titles (and around 9 pages long).

      Let me know if you don’t get another email sending you an email code later down the line, so we can confirm if that actually stops that from happening. I was talking to someone else about it today, asking why he might think I’m against it, and he said I probably didn’t want to give them my smartphone number for them to send me messages… that’s it!

  3. Hi Mitch, I think it’s going to get worse with Twitter and Facebook because both are allowing more multi-accounts for a user! It will be easier to set up fake accounts. Social media is changing so fast that I don’t know which channel I’m on as they are all trying to be another channel. It’s crazy! I still manage it for clients so I have to keep on top of it but posting with links is now a no-no, so it’s about the ad dollars for them all. It’s really no longer FREE Mitch. Sad but knew the day would eventually come.

    1. Thanks for the update Lisa. I hope if Musk totally bows and and I go back that Twitter will at least still be an engaging place to be… which is why it was always my favorite social media site. You said links are a no-no; does that mean you can’t share links to your blog content anymore?

      1. Hi Mitch, you can but fewer people will click on them IF they even see the post as the algorithm pushes it down. Twitter has not been engaging at all in the past year but even lately. I joined some “communicates” but no one keeps them up, I don’t see many on the audio platform either. Definitely not the same anymore!

      2. First, it looks like I finally figured out how to keep you from going to the spam filter. lol

        Second, the way Twitter used to work is that if you posted anything there, it would show up in the feed of people you’re connected to. Of course the feed moves fast, so they might not see it unless they’ve created lists and added people to those lists so you’d have a better opportunity to see what they’re posting (you’re in one of my lists, and I know I was in at least 2,500 lists lol). Still, I always kept the number of people I was following low because I wanted to verify that people I was connected to would talk to others; on Twitter I was social like that (not so much in the real world lol).

        There’s an audio platform now? Seems there’s new things I haven’t heard of…

  4. Hi Mitch, glad you figured that out! Yes, spaces it is called. Plus you have subscription-based accounts and maybe they are getting better reach than us with the “free” accounts. All about money and can’t blame them, they are in business after all, right?

    1. Yes they are; I haven’t kept up with any of it, since I assumed it was a done deal. BTW, seems you went back into spam again; sometimes WordPress is a mess! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *