How to protect your photos
Our team likes to talk with our readers about ways to protect data on the web and share convenient and free resources that make our readers’ lives and work much easier. In addition, we teach you how to expose the various fraudulent schemes on the internet.
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Today, we want to look at the phenomenon of fake accounts in social networks. As a rule, these fake accounts use fake profile pictures of other people. Then, they use these profiles for online fraud or blackmail.
So, we’ve decided to consider this problem in detail, and tell you what has led to the appearance of such profiles and ways to protect yourself from picture theft.
Also, we’ll share with you a working method of checking whether another person is using your profile pictures or not.
*Remember that impersonating another person can be considered a serious crime in many countries. So think twice before doing so.
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Why are such profiles used?
The main purpose of using fake profile photos is to create fake pages on popular social networks. These pages are usually created for spam or criminal activity. That is why, in some countries, it is forbidden to create fake pages. A person can get real punishment for this.
The anonymity of the internet allows hackers, spammers, and criminals to steal users’ personal data, including their profiles’ visual images. These images can then be used on a fake account, and the real owner may not even know about it. While it may seem at first glance like a harmless joke, in some instances it may cost someone their reputation, security, and material losses.
Where to get fake profile pictures? The most truthful and accurate answer is everywhere! Don’t forget that you are online yourself. There are many online stock image sources with profile type photos. Scammers can also find the necessary content on websites, blogs, and pages in social networks. There is no difficulty in this.
The most popular social networks with numerous fake web pages are considered to be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. Therefore, these sites have policies to fight fake accounts. Many are tightening the rules for registering new accounts, including requiring your private data.
The value of fake profile pictures
For sure, the first thought that comes to mind when you think about fake photos is dating sites. Many users of such sites can’t find their love in the offline world, so they come to search for it online. However, you might not want your potential new friends to see your real photos, especially if you are overweight or have any other physical or appearance issues. A fake photo will not only hide your real identity, it can make you appear more attractive.
According to statistics, about 10% of all profiles on dating sites are fake. They are created by scammers who play with people’s feelings for their own benefit. And in matters of trust, the profile picture plays an important role. It can either endear the profile to users who encounter it or repel them. So, if a cybercriminal wants to spam someone for money, they will create an account with the most attractive image they can find, playing on the victim’s aesthetic feelings and willingness to believe in internet fantasies.
However, dating sites are not the only places where the creation of fake accounts is common. For example, the popular professional networking site LinkedIn also contains many fake profiles.
As a virtual resume, LinkedIn allows users to post detailed information about their work history, education, special training, and other information to attract potential employers and connect with peers in the same industry. The site’s open access format – anyone with an account can view most details about other users – invites spammers to post fake jobs, questionable job offers, and fake profile photos. Fraudsters use fake LinkedIn profiles to trick vulnerable job seekers into parting with credit card numbers or other personal information.
This list can be continued indefinitely.
Reverse image search
There are different types of fake photos, and each type has its own goals. For example, cybercriminals will use images for online fraud. Sites use photos to promote a particular news headline. Users of social networks can use photos for a certain type of identity theft.
Regardless of the reason, there are ways to determine whether the photo you are looking at is legitimate. You can also find out where it came from if it’s fake.
Is it possible to find out if the image is fake? Yes, it’s simple and fast. We have an easy way to trace an image through reverse image search sites. You can use such available services as Google Images and TinEye. Below, we’ll show you how to do this via Google Images:
- Open images.google.com.
- Find and tap the camera icon.
- Select the option to enter the URL of the image that raises doubts about its authenticity.
- Confirm your action and click on image analysis.
Now you can see a list of sites that use this image.
If you want to find out if someone is using your personal photos, you need to select the upload image option. Then, after selecting the desired image from the saved photos library, you need to click on search.
The second mentioned site, TinEye.com, works on a similar principle and will show all sites that use your personal photos on the internet.
All this is possible thanks to one unspoken rule: everything that gets on the internet stays on the internet forever. In the same way, you can find your old comments, subscriptions, photos, and much more that you probably already forgot about.
How to protect your photos
In this age of digital progress, any image can be copied by anyone once it is in the public domain. However, there are still several ways to protect your photos on the internet.
- Adjust your privacy settings.
When registering and using social networks, you need to restrict access to your content for outsiders in the settings. For example, you can hide your profile on Facebook completely, even if there is a page contact.
- Avoid publishing certain types of photos.
It’s best not to post explicit photos or photos that might compromise you. After all, if they fall into the hands of a fraudster, they can manipulate you for their own benefit. It is better to publish ordinary photos, photos with friends that are difficult for someone to reuse.
- Forget about cloud storage services.
Do you want to save your photos from prying eyes? Don’t use cloud storage. Of course, online storage is a convenient way to save photos and at the same time save valuable free space on your device. However, no one can give a 100% guarantee that no one will be able to access your storage.
We’ve already talked about Dropbox, which can’t be considered secure storage for certain reasons. If you want to learn more, read the article Is Dropbox Safe to Use?
- Inform about violations.
If the verification of your photos for fake accounts gave a positive result, you need to inform the social network or site’s technical support. All popular resources have a specific usage policy that requires following the rules. And most likely, using someone else’s content violates these rules. Therefore, you need to contact the administration and request the removal of the fake account.
Some countries have strict laws against using fake profile photos to deceive people. Therefore, if someone steals your personal photos, you should immediately contact the local authorities and resolve this problem. Otherwise, you may become a victim of online scams.
Consider our Checklist of Necessary Security Measures on the Internet and be safe!