Did you know an average hacker can easily mimic you online?

We witness such activities daily on all social networking sites. Fake users use fake identities or copy original users' profiles and lure other users. Most fake users are not even humans; the vast majority of these accounts are bots or automated accounts created by software programs. Fake profiles participate in the propagation of fake and misleading agendas and create false narratives.

"The motive behind fake social media accounts could be to impersonate an individual with an intention to either trick specific users for getting sensitive information or spread misleading information to a larger audience," said Burgess Cooper, Partner Information & Cyber Security Ernst & Young.

Even strong anti-virus solutions in your laptops and mobile phones won’t be effective in curbing fake users. Gullible users often fall for fake accounts as these profiles seem to have real identities. Fake users and hackers are a menace, and all social media platforms are working tirelessly to deal with them. However, the steps taken by social networking sites and algorithms still have limitations and are not 100% effective in eliminating the fake user profiles. The fast pace in which these accounts are created and mimicking they do; many fake social media accounts remain hard to spot.

Social networking sites take your security and privacy extremely seriously. That’s why most of them incorporate both technical and manual efforts to combat the spammy account. Facebook’s impersonation feature for reporting duplicate accounts is also a step in that direction.

Have a look at these stats.
  • In 2019, Facebook deleted a whopping 3.2 billion fake accounts. The accounts include duplicate, misclassified, and undesirable accounts.
  • Twitter removed over 70 million fake accounts in 2018, giving a significant blow to fake profile operators.
  • LinkedIn too followed suit and took action against 21.6 million fake accounts.

Just a few years back, social media giants like Facebook relied largely on users to flag offensive and fake users to human reviewers. In March of 2020, Facebook revealed details about A.I. enabled technology that helped the social media platform to deal with the flood of problematic accounts. According to Bochra Gharbaoui (Data Science Manager, FB), the intelligent machine-learning tool has helped take down 6.6 billion fake accounts in 2020.

You already heard enough about how bad the fake user problem is and what steps various social media companies are taking to combat that. But, how does it affect businesses and individuals?

Why are fake followers bad for businesses?

Even though social media platforms are using various means to eliminate fake users, you also need to be vigilant about them. The fake accounts mean a higher operational cost and lower growth for social networks. Fake users do not interact with your brand on social media posts, which induces a lower engagement rate. The lower conversation rate crumbles the overall effectiveness of your media marketing plan.

Why do fake accounts exist?

Fake accounts are getting smarter; they are used for different purposes. Apart from humans creating fake profiles many automated social bots are also used. The social bots are fake user profiles that mimic real users. Social media bots are automated programs used for various purposes. The main idea for social bots came into existence to provide essential services such as weather updates and sports scores.

However, things went out of control when people started using fake bots for unfair means. Some brands and celebrities are even buying fake followers by malicious means. Fake users are used to stirrup political quarrels, create frictions, spread fake news and mistrust. Fake users actively promote or push negative agenda against all popular hashtags on social media, from Black Lives Matter to COVID-19. One of the most effective campaigns by fake users was "reopen America." MIT Technology Review revealed that approximately 60% of accounts pushing the campaign are bots.

The tech giants like Elon Musk, who is infamous for mobilizing his fans to attack people on Twitter, also, pointed out the problems caused by fake users.

Check this tweet: https://twitter.com/_maryjordan/status/1217939464825311232

Another interesting trend that is emerging, is fake users and bots with positive sentiments. Contrary to the popular belief that fake user profiles are used only to propagate false news and negative sentiments falls flat. Brands can use tools to separate fake positive and fake negative users. However, it still remains true that the goals and the existence of negative fake accounts appears as if they have only one intention, and that is CREATING CHAOS.

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How do fake accounts affect our behavior?

Fake users feed on the well-known psychological concepts of persuasion and influence- the social proof . Being social animals our definition of right or wrong is largely based on what the majority believes. Several studies validate that people are affected by social proofs. It doesn't depend on what your beliefs are or how smart you are. According to some reports , smart people are more likely to believe fake news and users.

The most important influencing factor when it comes to social proof is its volume. When hundreds, at times, thousands of people tell you the same thing, it will affect you. It's not the personality, but brands can also be affected by fake accounts. The sheer number that fake followers bring in, may appear great at first glance, but they cause a lot of trouble.

  • Fake followers don't interact with your brand.
  • Lower your overall engagement rate.
  • Clutter your following
  • Damage your credibility

You need to work meticulously and start looking for fake followers to save your brand. You can use the right tools to get rid of fake followers. Convocean offers a detailed location-based list of fake users, which you can use to weed out the fake followers.

Find top locations of fake users on Convocean Find persona of fake users for any location on Convocean

How to save brands from being affected by fake accounts?

Filtering out fake followers is definitely a tedious task, but what must be done, must be done. Periodically check fake accounts, their dates of posts, as well as the posting history of the unknown accounts. Search them through troll’s favorite topics.

Manual fakes can be more malicious than bots because they seem more believable. Tools like Convocean are of great assistance when you need to identify and eliminate fake users from your account.