Cloning of social media accounts has turned into an epidemic, and most of the sufferers or the targets are those who either wear a celebrity hat or high on popularity graph because of their content, impressive fan following built through hard work or unique talent.
So, what exactly is cloning of social media account?
Social media cloning accounts are those accounts which masquerade a popular entity. The idea is to cheat netizens, at least at first glance, and then lure them into their trap. This may result in gullible people liking, sharing and following these fake accounts unknowingly. Cloning is typically achieved via following methods –
- Building a social media account / page using the same layout / color scheme as that of the target. The audience instantly connects with the fake profile because it offers familiar settings and placements.
- Exploiting similar text and images. Most of the scammers simply use the same info graphics and pictures which once again resonate with the audience and instantly create trust.
- Both of the above. By exploiting the combination of layout and image property scammers create a lethal profile which can fool even the most diehard social media fanatic.
However, a small tweak can prevent cloning of these popular accounts to a large extent. Mentioned below are some of the popular ways of reducing the risk of being cloned.
– Make sure you don’t expose all your content to public. Either restrict sharing or make your profile private ( Share with friends, group or limited entities ).
– Hide your friends list. This will make scammers unsure of your popularity. For example, if you have say 4000 friends, you instantly become a perfect target for cloning because of your expansive social media presence which can be exploited by sending out invites / marketing targets to your friends. To hide your friends list, go to your profile and click on the “Friends” tab. Click the pencil icon on the right side and click “Edit Privacy”.
These tweaks will reduce the chance of your account getting cloned.
Instagram is yet another popular social media platform which attracts hordes of scammers. With Instagram it is really a matter of just one tweak – change your profile setting to private.
So, how does a private Instagram account help stop cloning? The answer is the element of suspense. Scammers won’t be able to see your media files ( images & videos ). Moreover, such imposters will not be able to see your activities. Private profile makes sure you allow only those people to follow you whom you trust. It also means only approved list of individuals will be able to see your interests and actions in terms of posts. On the flip side Google will not index these media properties. You can change “Privacy” parameter by going to settings and following these steps.
Settings > privacy > account privacy and toggle private account to active status.
Although two factor authentication’ is exploited to prevent profile hacking it makes sense to activate this feature if you are extremely popular on Instagram.
As mentioned above, one of the best ways to keep a social media account, even Twitter, is to keep the status “Private”. What does this mean? Twitter will then allow only your followers to see the kind of posts you like, share, comment or upload. Cloners generally avoid such accounts because they know these entities are tech savvy and therefore not worth pursuing / cloning. Yet another benefit of keeping the account / tweets private is that you will not receive any DM or direct messages. It kind of keeps spammers, hackers and those not following you at bay
To make your tweets private, go to your privacy and safety settings, and in the tweet privacy section, check the box next to protect my tweets.
LinkedIn is one of the finest business and career networking website, but unfortunately it is also one of the breeding grounds for spammers, hackers, cloners and a variety of online shenanigans. If that is not enough LinkedIn offers limited security parameters. However, it does provide a unique algorithm of connecting with other users.
This is termed as “Degree” or “Depth”. For example by accepting connection requests from 1st and 2nd degree connections you reduce the chance of being hacked or cloned. However, accepting deeper connection request can expose your account to various manipulations. There is another smart feature which offers a unique span to address cloning issue, and that is “Report a profile”. You can access this feature by –
– Clicking the “more” icon on the member’s profile.
– Click report/block.
– Select report this profile.
– Select the applicable reason for flagging the profile and click to submit.
Many social media users confuse account hacks with clone which is not the case. These issues are poles apart. While hacked account simply means it has been compromised and the real user has no control on it, cloned accounts are re-created and copied accounts with the sole aim to cheat gullible netizens. Either way, most of these websites offer a plethora of settings to safeguard the account. As a responsible user you need to explore, tweak and monitor your account regularly to keep virtual cheats at a safe distance.
Author [ Pankaj Jaiswal ] is Managing Director of Dotcom Services India Pvt Ltd (https://www.worldindia.com) & Netlynx Technologies Pvt Ltd (https://www.netlynx.com). He also hold Management Roles in Netlynx Inc , USA (https://www.netlynxinc.com) & Netlynx Tech, Canada (https://www.netlynx.ca).