Facebook Unveils A Feature To Block Imposter Accounts
By Paul Liu
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
Social networking giant Facebook is rolling out a brand new feature that would help it to get rid of imposter accounts present on its website. As of now, it is incredibly easy for anyone to steal personal data and photos from others’ Facebook profiles and create new accounts based on that information. These imposter accounts are a big source of nuisance since they are not only being used to befriend Facebook users and trick them into revealing their personal information; they are even being used by online criminals and hackers to stalk and harass others as well as to carry out borderline illegal activities like identity theft and financial frauds.
As per the information made available by the company, Facebook is experimenting with a new feature that will automatically alert users whose account details have been used to create fake accounts. The impersonation alert feature will look out for similarities in names and profile pictures to detect fake accounts. As soon as the system comes across a profile whose name and profile picture matches 100 percent to an existing profile, it will send an alert message to the user whose profile has been compromised. The user will then have the option of confirming whether his/her Facebook profile has indeed been compromised or whether the system generated a false alert.
While revealing details about fake profile detection and alert system, Facebook also disclosed that the process would be 100 percent automated. However, the system won’t delete imposter accounts automatically; rather profiles flagged as fake by existing Facebook users would be manually reviewed by the Facebook team. The company also disclosed that it started rolling out the feature in November’ 2015 and so far, it has been made available to about 75% of the site’s users. Facebook hopes to make the alert system an integral part of its website in the near future.
While discussing the impersonation alert feature, Facebook’s Head of Global Safety team Antigone Davis said that impersonator accounts have become a big source of harassment, especially for the women users of the network. He added that imposter accounts clearly violate Facebook’s policy which mandates providing actual names during the signup process. He also revealed that the feature was devised to make women feel safer on the social network and was the result of several rounds of roundtable discussions held with actual users, NGOs, activists and several other groups. These discussions primarily focused on how to address privacy and safety issues plaguing the network as well as how to address the impersonation issue that was causing social and cultural ramifications in certain parts of the world.
As well as rolling out the impersonation alert feature, Facebook is also testing a few more safety features. A planned feature would allow users to report intimate photos as well as identify themselves as victims of harassment in those images. By rolling out these features, Facebook has shown that it cares about its users and is sincere about tackling impersonation, stalking and fraud happening on its website. However, it remains to be seen whether these measures alone would be enough to make Facebook a safe and secure place.