There are a number of techniques to spot a fake Facebook account, but none of them are conclusive evidence that the account is false.

  1. Profile Picture – The profile picture often explains a lot about an account. A single profile picture could help us distinguish between an active user or not. If the account has a single profile picture, then it shall raise a question. Further, most of the fake accounts have either no profile picture or a picture of a celebrity as profile picture. Some of them use pictures from google which can raise a concern.

  2. About Section - Looking at the about section of a fake Facebook page is another method to recognise one. Legitimate Facebook users tend to go into great detail about their accomplishments. They might include information about their school, college, prior and present jobs, and so forth. If you don't see anything in the about area, it's probably a phoney account.

  3. Friends – When a person follows a lot of people then that could be considered as a red flag. Further if that person is friends with a lot of foreign accounts then that might also raise a concern.

  4. Different Name in URL and Profile - The URL and profile of many fraudulent Facebook profiles have distinct names. It occurs when a legitimate person's account is hacked and used under a different identity, or when an account is made for one purpose and then used to promote various themes under a different identity.

  5. Timeline - If a person posts too many links to one or more websites with a lot of adverts, it's obvious that the account is being used for marketing, and it's most likely a false account. Facebook users exchange a variety of content, such as jokes, music, videos, and photos. They also talk about their hobbies, such as travelling, reading, and listening. It might also be a clue of a bogus account if you don't observe such a variety of posts.

  6. Lack of Interactions - When you notice a lot of likes and generic comments on photographs of ladies, such as "beautiful," "cute," and "sweet," and the account user doesn't respond, it's a symptom of a phoney profile. When someone compliments his or her photograph, a genuine individual at the very least expresses gratitude.

Fake profiles are popular on social networking sites, matrimonial sites, and other sites. The persons on the opposite side of the computer are frequently harassed. Given the prevalence of false accounts, it is vital to investigate the legality and consequences of establishing them.

Section 66-D of Information Technology Act 2000, which was subsequently amended in 2008, states that “whoever by means of any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.” It is required for a person to cheat, which implies that the person who creates a fake account of another person must profit financially. The IP address can be used to track down the genuine person behind the false profile. Every device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in the Internet Protocol address (IP address) is issued a numeric label – a series of four numbers.The victim may submit a complaint with the Adjudicating Officer established under the Information Technology Act (generally, the Chief Secretary/Secretary of the relevant state's Information Technology Department). This application must be considered and decided within four months, and the entire matter must be resolved within six months.

Punishment for such crime is imprisonment for up to three years and fine which may extend to three years. Similarly, Section 419 of the IPC could also be applied with the same qualification that it must be making a pecuniary benefit to it. As an example, a person may create a fictitious business facebook account in order to persuade consumers to sign a contract. He would be held responsible under the Act's Sections 66D and 419. It is important to note that he has benefited financially from creating a fictitious company account.

A person who commits forgery is subject to imprisonment for up to two years and a fine under Section 465 of the Act. Forgery is defined in Section 465 as a person who creates fake electronic records with the goal to harm the general public or a specific individual.

Making a random bogus account is not illegal in and of itself unless it is fraudulent under the country's cyber laws.

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We speak the language of Technology & Internet. We understand how the law interacts with Technology & Internet. Cyber Crime Chambers is a boutique firm specializing in internet laws and digital forensic evidence.

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Karthikeyan.N

B.A., B.L., (Hons) IPDP., (London)
Pgd IPR., Pgd Cyber Law., Msc., (IT)
CCI., CFA., IPCL.,
Advocate, Madras High Court

Karthikeyan, is a renowned cyber law expert, who is also the Managing Partner of Law Office of Karthikeyan, a reputed law firm based in Chennai.

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