Social Media

A fairly common source of misleading information is fake social media accounts or fake websites. Fake social media accounts are different from bots, which are created electronically. However, fake profiles on platforms like Facebook or Twitter tend to be carefully crafted handled aimed at mimicking someone else and putting out content deliberately intended to mislead readers/viewers.

Fake news websites are also not to be confused with satirical websites. The former also consciously put out fake news, often sourced from elsewhere, whereas satirical news sites typically put out stories that are fake but are intended to make fun of someone or something, with no ulterior motive of provoking trouble. Unfortunately, mainstream media, and even social media, often falls for such sites and there have been examples when satirical stories have been taken at face value and represented as real news.

To detect fake Twitter profiles, foller.me is a very useful tool. What it does is throw up a soup of most-used terms or phrases by that particular profile. This can be used to detect what kind of postings the profile regularly does, and which can be used to infer the authenticity of the profile.

Fake profiles also tend to use random or publicly available stock images for their DP, so a simple image search can reveal whether the profile is of a real person or a fake one.

A cursory search of the profile’s earlier comments can open be a window into it’s credibility. Most such profiles tend to push radical views that typically have no basis in facts, and are often just made-up or regurgitated from other accounts. Sometimes, fake profiles are also created to post inflammatory material in order to malign a certain individual or group by pretending to part of the said group.

Tools like Google, TinEye, Yandex, WayBackMachine, and Twopchart can be used to cross check social media profiles, images and content.

While the logic is the same on Facebook, tools for this social media giant are different. You can use IntelTechniques to search Facebook for suspect profiles.

IntelTechniques returns the user’s Facebook ID number which can then be used to search a variety of activities related to that profile. It also offers the option of a keyword search for certain actions.

Another tool that can be used for Facebook is PeopleFindThor. While it is also easy to use, it offers fewer search filters than IntelTechniques.

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