Is Facebook Awash with Fake Profiles Harvesting Your Information?

10 April 2013
Ben Logan

Author: Ben Logan

Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

The question is now being asked – are your friends on Facebook really people? Tests reveal that the social media platform might be teaming with bots that are busy siphoning off your data and attempting to influence your decisions.

Researchers at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have designed a bot army of fake automatic friends and found that when tested they managed to imitate real people well enough to infiltrate social networks.

The bots were so successful that they even began receiving friend requests from authentic users, although unsurprisingly the fake female profiles where harvesting 20 to 30 times the number of requests as their male counterparts.

Unfortunately, there is no definite way to stop the use of bots on social networks as any counter measures that have been tried introduce conflicts with security and usability. One would assume that social media users would go some way to preventing the problem by showing more discrimination with their online friend choices, but it seems this is not the case with many.

Since the UBC is registering an 80% bot success rate during their testing research, it seems that the “Accept Friend Request” button could do with a warning all of its own.

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