Two different viral warnings are spreading on Facebook in the past week. One is about a rash of “cloned” accounts and bogus friend requests. It is mostly fake, say security experts, who ask people to stop forwarding it. The other is about a security breach resulting in 50 million Facebook users accounts being hacked. Let’s look at both below and see if your Facebook has really been cloned or hacked.
FACEBOOK CLONING WARNING
I have received a few Facebook messages from friends warning me that my account has been hacked or cloned. A couple of examples are:
“Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW friendship FROM ME AT THIS TIME.”
“Almost every account is being cloned. Your picture and your name are used to create a new face book account (they don’t need your password to do this this). They want your friends to add them to their Facebook account. Your friends will think that it’s you and accept your request. From that point on they can write what they want under your name. I have NO plans to open a new account. Please DO NOT accept a 2nd friend request from “me”. please forward to all your contacts.”
Now my account wasn’t really cloned or hacked, but this was the end result of someone sending the canned message to all friends.
Warning people that you’ve received a second friend request from their account is only helpful IF you’ve actually received one. And encouraging people to forward the message to their entire friends list, well that’s just pointless.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR FACEBOOK HAS REALLY BEEN CLONED
One easy way to check to see whether your account has really been cloned is to search your name on Facebook. If more than one account with your photo and details shows up, your account may have been cloned.
Simply contact Facebook using the “report this profile” link on the bogus account, and it will be removed. Most of the time, this is resolved within 24 hours, but could take longer to be removed.
FACEBOOK SECURITY BREACH
The reality is that Facebook announced last week that about 50 million users were recently hacked. The hacking was the result of a flaw in Facebook’s “View As” feature. The “View As” allows you to see your profile as others do. Users can type in a person’s name to get an understanding of what can be seen when a particular person is viewing their page.
Affected access tokens, which are like digital keys that allow a person to access their account without having to log in each time, were reset, forcing millions of users to manually log back into their accounts. So if you were automatically logged out on all of your devices on the morning of Friday, September 28th, then there’s reason to believe your account was susceptible to the vulnerability.
Currently, the “View As” feature is not available while Facebook works to rectify the problem, those who try to use this feature should see an error message.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT WAS ONE THAT WAS BREACHED?
When Facebook announced the attack on its blog last Friday, it said affected users would receive a notification at the top of their News Feed when logging back into their account explaining what happened and what steps to take moving forward.
If you received this notification, you can select “Learn More” to get an understanding of how this breach will affect you. If you did not receive a notification at the top of your News Feed, your account was probably not affected by this security issue.
If you want to be extra safe, go to Settings– Security and Login– Where You’re Logged In to see if there are any unfamiliar devices attached to your account.