Invasion of the Fake LinkedIn Accounts
Social Media Noise Is Becoming Louder
It is no secret that there are loads of fake social media accounts around the Internet. Accounts set up purporting to be someone who doesn’t actually exist.
In the offline world, fake ID’s and fake personas have existed for centuries. Back in 2005 when I was planning my return to Australia from over 22 years abroad, I recall reading somewhere that Australia had 20% more official ID’s than we had actual population. It is one of the key reasons why the ‘Australia Card’, a form of national identity card various governments have tried to introduce since the late 1970’s, would be a disaster and a complete shambles.
In an environment like social media that makes it so easy to create personas it was always inevitable that fake and fraudulent ID’s would pop up. The ‘Single Sign On’ (SSO) capabilities from services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google that are widespread through the Internet are simply making it easier to propagate the illusion of the person that is created. Single Sign On with one of these networks or service providers can be used for account registration, linking, and accessing other third party services. In other words, create your Facebook, Twitter and/or Gmail (Google+) account and you are well on your way.
Grab your IPhone or Android, take a few happy snaps of random people in public, at the bar, in a cafe or restaurant, and upload them immediately to your feed/stream. Voila, you instantly start to look like a real person. Connect to as many people as you can, choose the first ones carefully and leverage their reputation to build new connections. Easier still automate the extent of your connectedness with various tools and autoresponders that lead people who ‘follow you’ (back) to connect with you on other services.
The reasons for having fake ID’s online are probably as numerous as they are for having them offline. I don’t intend to go into that here. What I have noticed more recently though is the number of new and clearly fake LinkedIn accounts. As an Open Networker I gladly accept incoming connection requests and so receive several new requests daily. That doesn’t mean that I immediately click ‘Accept All’ and nor should you. Creating a fake ID and requesting others connect to that account under the accepted policies of being a member of the Open Networker groups, IMHO violates the intention of those very policies.
There really should be a ‘Fake Profile’ group on all of the social networks (ideally that autofeed data to each other) where fake ID’s can be outed. Problem with that is policing, control, possible defamation/libel suits, and really who has the time unless it is set up as a commercial venture, which is possibly not a bad idea; but again, who has the time?
The more fake social media profiles are created, the greater the noise will become online. Although there is probably more noise (in terms of total volume) on the Internet than ever before, for those who remember the early Usenet and BBS’s prior to that, I feel the relative noise to level ratio is much lower today than it was back then, but it is creeping up fast. Do I have a solution for this? No. For now just be alert!