Facebook account cloning: what it is and how to prevent it


Have you ever received a Facebook friend request from someone you are already friends with? If so, don’t accept it! Chances are your friend’s account was cloned and the cloned account wants to get a hold of your information. Accepting a friend request from a cloned account leaves you vulnerable to spam and often reveals personal details that could be used in identity theft. So, how do you avoid having your Facebook account cloned?

Check your privacy settings

Is your profile picture able to be viewed by your friends or by everyone? You can easily tell this by looking on the top right hand side of your opened profile picture – if you see a tiny icon of the world, this means your profile picture can be viewed in a larger format by the general public and in turn can be downloaded easily (and therefore re-used by someone else) – making it easier for someone to clone your account. Make sure your current and past profile pictures as well as all photos and photo albums you have uploaded and created are always set to “friends” and are never made available to the public.

Hide your friends list

It’s fun to scroll through the friends lists of other people, especially when looking to connect with past colleagues and school mates, but by leaving the list open to the public, or even just your friends you are leaving them at risk. If someone clones your account, the first thing they are going to do is try and befriend people on your friends list in an attempt to get ahold of their information as well.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers

Consider this not talking to strangers online. If you do not who someone is, don’t accept their friend request or create a rule  - only accept a friend request if you have two or more mutual friends in common (Facebook typically shares this information with you at the time of the request).

Don’t accept requests from people you are already friends with

If you are already friends with someone, don’t accept a second friend request from them and be sure to report the cloned account to the original account owner as well as to Facebook. If you are unsure if you are friends with that person, double check your friends list. If you’re still unsure send a message to the original account owner asking them if this is them or not, but when in doubt don’t accept the friend request.

Don’t overshare

If you are heading out on vacation don’t post it as a status on Facebook and then have that status open to the public. At the very least make it only viewable to friends you wholeheartedly trust. You can do this by creating lists and only selecting those lists to share with. 

As with all social media it’s important to remember that whatever you post online is “out there” and even though you may think it is protected it doesn’t take much for complete strangers to access that information. The best thing to do is to take all necessary precautions when posting online and be mindful of what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with.