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- A new spammy viral post on Facebook is warning users about the purported risks of account “cloning.”
- Spoiler alert: There’s nothing to worry about.
- Impersonating accounts is already against Facebook’s rules, and is easy to detect – both by Facebook and other users.
- Copy-posting the chain-mail post “warning” about it achieves nothing, so don’t waste your time.
There’s a new spammy viral post circulating on Facebook – and it’s all about “cloning.”
Cloning is when a user copies another user’s profile, then uses the information – such as the profile photo and other personal details – to create a new “impostor” Facebook account. It is (obviously) against Facebook’s rules, and a chain-mail-esque post has been spreading in recent weeks, warning of the purported dangers of cloning and asking people who read it to copy and paste it into their own posts, so other users can be warned.
If you’re tempted to spread the message, however – don’t. The risk from cloning is minimal, and you’re just wasting your time sharing the message.
One example of the anti-cloning messages circulating is below, though it sometimes varies somewhat in format and substance. (This example was previously also published by Times Union.) It warns users to be vigilant of cloning, and asks them not to accept unusual new friend requests:
“Heads-up!! Almost every account is being cloned. Your picture and your name are used to create a new face book account (they don’t need your password to do this this). They want your friends to add them to their Facebook account. Your friends will think that it’s you and accept your request. From that point on they can write what they want under your name. I have NO plans to open a new account. Please DO NOT accept a 2nd friend request from “me”. please forward to all your contacts.”
So should you freak out? In a word: No.
Genuine instances of cloning are rare, thanks in part to Facebook’s security and spam filters for new accounts, and there’s an easy way to be sure if you receive a second friend request from someone you know: Just ask them in real life if they sent it. Worried you’ve been cloned? Just search your name on Facebook, and if any suspicious accounts pop up, report them.
“Claiming to be another person on Facebook violates our Community Standards, and we have a dedicated team that’s tasked with helping to detect and block these kinds of scams. We have made several recent improvements to combat impersonation, including image recognition technology, automation to detect scams, and improved reporting abilities,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider.
Facebook hasn’t noticed any recent increase in impersonations on the social network, they added.
What’s more, even if you do copy and paste the message to spread the word, you’re probably just wasting your time, because Facebook’s algorithm penalizes chain-mail messages in its newsfeed – meaning few people will ever even see it.
“We’ve heard from people that they don’t like seeing the same post that a lot of people are copying and pasting on to Facebook,” the spokesperson said. “So if enough people post the same long post, it could show up lower in people’s News Feeds.”