Facebook's Identity-Theft-Enabling Business Model
Facebook's Fake Numbers: 'One Billion Users' May Be Less Than 500 Million
- by Janet Tavakoli:
I don't use Facebook and never have, yet my first-hand experience made me feel Facebook's business model is pernicious. I had to jump through hoops to get my impersonator's profile removed from Facebook. I discovered the impersonator in June 2011 via Google Alerts; otherwise it would have gone undetected by me.
Facebook required me to fill out a form and provide the fake profile's URL -- which I had only thanks to Google Alerts. (People not on Facebook who don't use Google Alerts may be the victim of identity theft without even knowing about it.) Then I had to provide a scan of a government issued photo I.D., information I didn't want to provide, but the potential consequences of a malicious use of my profile made reluctant compliance seem the lesser of two evils. I felt as if I were the victim of tag-team malware.
Facebook's lack of controls enabled this fraud. Meanwhile Facebook may have reported the fraudulent profile as a "user," and after the fraud was found out by me, Facebook extracted valuable information from me. I'm not saying Facebook was the original source of the fraudulent profile only that it can benefit from the existence of it. Anyone, including Facebook, could have been the source. Facebook potentially benefits from identity theft both by counting fake users as real, and then when a victim tries to get the fake removed, by getting more valuable information that it can sell.
But Facebook's business model is even more perverse if you are a Facebook user and a victim of identity theft on Facebook...
If you delete your Facebook account, there appears to be nothing to prevent an impersonator from creating a new fraudulent profile that appears to be you. I recommend every regulator read Tynan's article: "Facebook's Crazy Catch 22: How Imposter's Can Assume Your Identity and Run Wild."
I've never used Facebook. Nonetheless, a detailed and interesting read.
Forest Grove, OR
Later, in its 10Q filing for the period ending June 30, 2012, Facebook "estimated" 8.7 percent fakes on a then reported even higher user base. This updated estimate also appears much too low to me. Based on my unscientific survey of 50 U.S. Facebook users and further publicly reported anecdotal evidence, Facebook's prospectus's representation of fakes may be off by a factor of ten.
So... 87% of the users on Facebook are fakes?--
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|reply to FF4m3 |
It's going to take more mainstream articles like this one before Facebook's problems are taken seriously.
There are too many apologists who insist, "well, it's safe if the user would only ..." and they go on to blame the victim. No, it's not, since innocent people who have never joined can be victimized, or legitimate members can be blocked by imposters.
The victim's wife, Jennifer, was friended by a fake profile of her husband, Andrew. Andrew was already her friend, so she investigated. The fake profile had her husband's name, photo, and Timeline. Andrew was unable to see the profile himself, because the impersonator blocked him. Jennifer tried to report the fake, but Facebook only allows the real account owner to report the fraud. But Andrew is unable to access the reporting mechanism, because he is blocked by the fake account.
If people want to join, that's their business, the same way getting puking drunk is their business. But if people think it's harmless or setting the right permissions protects them, they're in denial.
SteveI know your IP addressConsultant
Foothill Ranch, CA
So let's say that I set up a fake website, "the official website of goalieskates". How do you fix that?
BlackbirdBuilt for SpeedPremiumReviews:
Fort Wayne, IN
|reply to FF4m3 |
I think it will eventually reach a point of major fraud scandals - and the ensuing lawsuits - before Facebook is impacted hard enough to significantly change this business model. And, given enough time and current trends, those lawsuits will come... it only awaits a big-enough payoff and a hungry-enough, determined lawyer to set the precedent, then the floodgates will be opened. It all reminds me of the snowpack that built up over asbestos injury claims, then the avalanche occurred and swept numerous businesses out of existence.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. A. de Tocqueville
·Time Warner Cable
|reply to FF4m3 | said by FF4m3 :
I discovered the impersonator in June 2011 via Google Alerts;
Facebook required me to fill out a form and provide the fake profile's URL -- which I had only thanks to Google Alerts. (People not on Facebook who don't use Google Alerts may be the victim of identity theft without even knowing about it.)
3 references to Google Alerts full of praise & forewarning non believers of impending doom
It's a thinly veiled pitch for Google Alerts.Psalm 23 of The Book of Google"Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of facebook impersonators, I will fear no evil: for Google Alerts are with me; your service and your safekeeping of my PII they comfort me."