Any tips or tricks to help effectively build a fake profile on Facebook?
November 19, 2019 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have advice on creating a fake Facebook account, without being caught by their fraud detection, or noticed by other people?

1) An account needs an email address (that part is easy).
2) What about a phone number? How easy is it to create/fake a phone number?
3) Is there a way to get photos to use for a fake facebook account? (One of those sites that generates fake photos? Photos of someone who died back in the sixties or seventies? Other ideas?)
4) Anything else that goes into building up a fake facebook account?
posted by crocodiletsunami to Technology (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You can get a Google voice number for free, you can even choose the area code if it's available.

Likely want to sign up for a new fake Google account (ie your step 1).
posted by muddgirl at 1:03 PM on November 19, 2019

I would totally use a GAN for #3 (e.g. but you could run into issues only having one photo. Having multiple photos of a person that doesn't exist from a GAN is an active area of research that I don't think has been solved.
posted by supercres at 1:08 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've done this. For pictures I mostly used pictures I found on the internet in which the subject's face was obscured or otherwise not visible. A phone number isn't really necessary - not everyone links theirs with FB after all.

The main thing a profile needs to look real, of course, is friends. If you have a group of people who you can tell you're creating a fake profile, that works best, because they can all accept friend requests. In my case, the profile started as a joke in grad school, so all of the other grad students were on board. The best thing is if you can get a group of people who are loosely connected to all be friends with your fake person, because that will make the fake person start showing up in "people you may know" lists.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:28 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Other than telling people who know me to friend the fake account, is there some other way to find friends for it?
posted by crocodiletsunami at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2019

Flickr has a couple of places you can look for images. They have the commons, and they also let you customize your search by license, so you can search by creative-commons works and works with no known copyright. In theory these could be found using a reverse image search, but if you need to fill in some fake travel snapshots, it's a good place to start.
posted by adamrice at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

For the friends, try a subreddit or message board for a game that requires a link to a Facebook profile? Been a while but when I was playing Covet I accepted a few “friends” that were solely to get connections in the game that iirc were from reddit.
posted by arha at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

(and sorry if that’s a horrible suggestion for reasons I haven’t thought through. I did get spammed a couple of times but if it’s a fake profile anyway that would be less of an issue. Quite a lot of people seemed to have fake accounts set up purely for the game).
posted by arha at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2019

You can also get photos from Wikipedia Commons which are free to use. In terms of friends I think some of this has to do with the purpose of the account. If the profile is a member of a FB group that has a decent amount of traffic, you can be chatty with those people and friend some of them. But it's a little big of a chicken/egg problem because a lot of people won't really friend accounts with few to no friends (or no mutual friends). I'd also be super careful about not looking like a romance-scammer type of account because those seem to get banned with some pretty serious regularity (usually males in their 50s-60s who are widowers and their account activity is all photos of themselves and they go friending single women a lot).
posted by jessamyn at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2019

Andrea Grimes: I Quit Facebook And So Can You (Even If It's Your Job). Scroll about halfway down.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:26 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Remember, Facebook does not want to catch you, they want to have as many unique plausibly genuine accounts as possible and will only get rid of such accounts if they are obviously fake or someone reports them. You only need to make the account real enough for them to collect the data they use to advertise with and they will overlook anything that isn't obvious spamming without paying them for the privilege of doing so, or threats of violence.

Pick a name that is totally unmemorable: Judy Spencer - Bob Matthews - Greg Turner - Samantha Curtis Brown, nicknamed Sam - Lori Belding - Mark and Chelsea Finnegan.

If you can invent a persona that is plausible rather than needing to use a specific persona or name you are way ahead. For example, if you become a 62 year old new facebook user who has no previous social media experience you are both plausible and dearly wanted as an account. So find a facebook business account that is new, such as a small restaurant that opened recently and link to that as soon as you open your account to go with the fiction that you joined fb because you want to know when Casa Julia has its live music nights. However after liking and following the small business, merely like the posts announcing the live music nights for a few weeks and otherwise ignore that small business as you do not want to look like you are a dummy account started by Casa Julia to appear to have more traffic than they really do.

Like and follow a local unsuccessful real estate agent's personal page. It will look like you know him or her, but the agent is not going to ask you how you know them, or unfriend you. They want as many people on their friends list as possible and will have lots of contacts they can't place even if their life depends on it.

Find some group that is interested in something you can tolerate chatting about, such as cairn terriers, and start posting on that other group - all you have to do is short replies like, "He's so precious!" and post maybe two stolen pictures of a cairn terrier yourself, before you can get into commenting more often on posts in that group, and then send a friend request to someone whose dog you admire.

To get pictures of your cairn terrier, simply do an image search for cairn terriers and pick a not very good image from the fifth or later page of results. If you can't simply copy and paste the image to facebook or do a save as, then copy and paste the image into a document and then save graphic as and that should turn your image back into a jpeg that can go into facebook.

Do the same with some boring scenery picture from the same city as your IP address. Parks are good. Sunsets, or uninspiring clumps of seasonal flowers in backyards are also excellent pictures to post on your wall. Look for not good pictures that were obviously taken with a cheap phone from page seven of the image search result for fall mums and don't steal professional stock pictures - not because you'll get caught by the owner of the stock photo, but because clone accounts being set up to send friend requests to in order to commit fraud use professional stock pictures of things like beautiful flowers, as they want the prospective victims not to wonder what back yard the picture was taken in. Since you won't be sending friend requests to anyone who knows what Chelsea Finnegan's back yard looks like, you want to go with pictures that look like someone's genuine backyard. It's okay that you only have one picture of that backyard.

Make up a few posts for your own wall that are obvious personal detail updates: Wednesday, not looking forward to the dentist on Friday: Thursday Patricia gave me the most beautiful bunch of flowers and she picked them up at the Stop and Shop: Friday afternoon, my dental freezing hasn't worn off. Saturday: the grand kids aren't on facebook which is so disappointing...

At this point you so look like a real person that facebook will consider you a valuable asset. For your personal portrait put up a picture of a cairn terrier. Lots of people put up a profile picture that isn't themself. This will make facebook assume that you are ashamed of your appearance because you consider yourself overweight and they will absolutely and happily allow you to go with a dog with its tongue sticking out, and it will further guarantee that you get lots of ads aimed at people who might want to diet, might want cosmetic surgery and might want to buy fashion in plus sizes, not to mention adds for Hills Science Diet, small breed. Your lack of a personal portrait is data that they sell, not a red flag.

If you fill in the accounts bio details, such as location, they need to match your IP location. Education can be a random large elementary school in a decent neighbourhood in some other State and a large university within a three state radius.

Start playing some game or the other and post your scores on that game and share your contact list with that game. It doesn't matter that you list is only one dog fancier who lives on the other side of the country. Like a few of the ads facebook throws up for you. As suggested above, a social game that wants people to play with can give you a list of people who would like you to friend them. The catch is that most people drop out of those games after just a few sessions, so as soon as you get a stranger who wants to be your gaming friend like a few of their boring posts on their wall. The best ones to like are the ones that promote non-controversial causes, such as men's prostate health. With luck you will happen on a gaming friend who overshares, and can post a few supportive replies when they complain about their fibromyalgia and then you are in danger of having a real life friend for your fake profile.

If you want to do so set up another couple of dummy accounts with the same last name as yourself, so if you are Chelsea Finnegan, a week later set up an account from your same IP as Terry Finnegan aged 34, and link to him as your son, and then never ever log into Terry Finnegan's account again. Mark Finnegan, husband, set up five minutes later on the same day as Terry can log in twice, like your comment about the dental freezing and fill in the fact that he went to the same university you did in the bio details and post "I don't like the curtains." on your wall and then drop out of existence - you tried to get your family on fb, but they just don't do social media. Or they can take a few turns playing that game that you need friends for if they are supportive and want to humour you.

At this point you have an unassailable background and an alter ego and you can do what you like. However since you don't want to have to deal with two factor authentication or any other authentication barriers, try to always log in from the same IP and do NOT screw up on your password. For this reason your password should be something easy to remember, spell and figure out - Matthew or facebookpassword would be ideal.

Remember, fb really likes it if you have three accounts under three different names instead of just one because that triples the product that they sell. They absolutely do not want to catch you. Their business is convincing advertisers that the data they sell is valuable, and of course it isn't. Companies who advertise through facebook do not usually make any sales unless they game the system themselves, so there are probably still several million fake accounts padding the social media, all there for the purpose of making likes and loves look genuine if not to commit real fraud.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:09 PM on November 19, 2019 [45 favorites]

I've done this, incorrectly, and my fake profile was 'friended' by family and friends within hours, despite me never giving them the info, having a fake name/no picture, being linked to an email set up specifically for the account, and no identifying info.

I think one or both of two things happened. One is that FB may have used the phone number I had to give them to confirm the account to match with my data in people's address books (even though I set it to keep the ph number completely private, and deleted it as soon as I could after confirmation). So you definitely need to use a phone number that can't be linked to you by anyone. The other is that I didn't use a VPN or anything to connect to it, and although I block scripts where I can, you have to enable some just to get FB to load at all, and I may have enabled something that allowed it to get enough info from my browser, or from other things on my computer to match me to my real self. I used it on my phone too, but not in the app, which I have never installed, only in the browser. So I hope it couldn't have accessed my contacts app or anything, but I guess it might be possible.

So when you create the account and afterwards, you should be very careful to only use FB in a very walled off environment. VPN, anonymous window or a browser you use only for FB, clear all cookies, block all scripts you can, and don't install any apps.
posted by lollusc at 4:47 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I created a fake account years ago with a ridiculous cartoon animal name and a photo of a hamster. I’ve used it exactly once, and not at all in the last 6 years. It’s still there. Facebook doesn’t seem to care.
posted by spitbull at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

My cat had a Facebook page forever, her name was "Sweetpea Made-Up-Whimsical-Lastname". Then, at some point I took over her account and changed it to my real name, changed a few photos. And then down the road when I was done with Facebook but still wanted to keep track of my groups, I changed the name again to a pseudonym (still with my real picture), and soldiered on. At no point did it raise any flags. So, yah, not a big deal, just because I am this way, I would use photos you have taken, if you need a real person, use yourself, maybe disguised? I don't know why you need this account so not sure about that.
posted by nanook at 5:05 PM on November 19, 2019

I’ve had one fake profile for 5 years and another for 1 year. The older one, I just pulled a random person off the internet who’s face you can’t really see. For the newer profile, I just have some meme photo. Neither profile has any friends. I’ve never posted anything on either profile, either - I use one to follow a professional group I deliberately got myself thrown out of (they were being racist), and one to use for posting on my job’s Facebook account (don’t want to tie it to my personal account). I haven’t had any issues. I think as long as you stay out of trouble, Facebook doesn’t care.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:05 PM on November 19, 2019

Same as spitbull. I pulled a cute candid picture of someone's dog off the internet as my profile pic. For friends I went over to Candy Crush's page, then sent friend requests to anyone who commented there - a lot of people accepted since it's a way to get extra lives. I don't think Facebook cares as long as you're not doing anything sketchy. I use it maybe twice a year.
posted by Mchelly at 10:49 PM on November 19, 2019

Facebook does care, or at least has historically cared, once your account gets reported to them as fake, and there was a huge obnoxious thing a few years ago where accounts of trans people were getting reported as "fake" for not using birth names, and FB wouldn't re-instate the accounts because users weren't using their legal names. So it does happen, and can happen for some societally-oppressive reasons depending on how much you're likely to trigger people's fragility.
posted by lazuli at 6:54 AM on November 20, 2019

There was an incident when a woman created two accounts, one for her real self and one for her sex worker business. Even though she used a different phone number, FB must have somehow connected her name with the phone numbers, because all of a sudden her family members were getting those ubiquitous notifications saying "hey, you may know [sex worker]!" Be very, very careful.
posted by Melismata at 7:33 AM on November 20, 2019

If you need friends just search for names like the name you are taking. "Joe Smith" for instance. Just friend request every joe smith. It depends on the reason for the account too. If it's to spy on someone local you need to prove your location is or isnt where they can find out your real identity.
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 1:37 AM on November 21, 2019

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