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Why Fake Profiles: A study of Anomalous users in different categories of Online Social Networks

  • Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture

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Online Social Networks (OSNs) provides an excellent platform to their users to interact, collaborate and share content on the web. These OSNs can be classified into different categories based on the context of the functionalities they provide to its members such as applications designed to build and maintain social connections, applications that focus on facilitating the sharing of media or the application forums that allow people to share their knowledge, news ,and ideas. Despite the fact that these sites have made the social life of the people better, there are several issues with using them and proliferation of fake accounts is one of them. There are a number of wrong reasons which appeal the hackers to use forged identities to connect to benign users and perform adversarial, unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory operations. However, the reasons significantly depend on the type of the social network being targeted. In this paper , we first discuss the different categories of the online social networks with their respective benefits they provide to their users. Then, the paper provides the various reasons which motivate the attacker to create fake profiles on a particular type of network. Furthermore, we also discuss the way forged identities destabilize a network and exploit its facilities.
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Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
Why Fake Profiles: A study of Anomalous users in different
categories of Online Social Networks
Mudasir Ahmad Wani Muzafar Ahmad Sofi Suheel Yousuf Wani*
IIIT-Bangalore Amer Sing College, Srinagar IIIT-Bangalore
Online Social Networks (OSNs) provides an excellent platform to their users to interact, collaborate and share content
on the web. These OSNs can be classified into different categories based on the context of the functionalities they provide
to its members such as applications designed to build and maintain social connections, applications that focus on
facilitating the sharing of media or the application forums that allow people to share their knowledge, news, and ideas.
Despite the fact that these sites have made the social life of the people better, there are several issues with using them
and proliferation of fake accounts is one of them. There are a number of wrong reasons which appeal the hackers to use
forged identities to connect to benign users and perform adversarial, unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory
operations. However, the reasons significantly depend on the type of the social network being targeted.
In this paper, we first discuss the different categories of the online social networks with their respective benefits they
provide to their users. Then, the paper provides the various reasons which motivate the attacker to create fake profiles on
a particular type of network. Furthermore, we also discuss the way forged identities destabilize a network and exploit its
Keywords: Online Social Networks, Fake profiles, Social Network threats, Privacy and security.
Online Social Networks (OSNs) refer to the web applications which are primarily designed to facilitate
interaction, collaboration and share content among its users. These applications provide a platform for its
users to connect with the users of similar interests, domains, experiences and so on and assist them with an
excellent medium to share and consume information across the network. OSNs can be of different types
depending upon the purpose they have been designed to serve. There are social networks which help people
in building online social connections and facilitate them in keeping in touch with their friends and family
members, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. Facebook is the topmost online social network which
provides a platform to users for connecting and sharing information with their connections. Twitter offers its
members to broadcast their thoughts, opinions, suggestions and get updates from other connected members.
Some social networking sites are specifically designed to provide an easy and convenient way to share videos
and photos such as YouTube and Flickr. Furthermore, there are online networking applications which are
primarily designed to promote professional growth of its users. LinkedIn is the largest online professional
network that provides a powerful option to connect to relevant people in their career domain. A discussion
forum is also one of the types of social media e.g. Quora, which allows a user to ask and answer questions of a
topic to the people and share their knowledge. Online dating applications are another type of OSNs which
make it easy for the users in connecting and hooking up with the strangers.
Although social networking sites have made the lives of the people better but nevertheless there are several
unavoidable and serious issues with associated with them such as misuse of personal and professional
information, social engineering, online bullying, online impersonation etc. The existence of fake profiles on
the network is one of the major concerns for both the OSN service providers and its users. A fake profile
represents the identity (profile) of persons who claim to be someone they are not. According to the Facebook,
if one is using a Facebook account other than his principle account is fake. Fake accounts are usually created
to perform various unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory activities on the network, posing threat
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
to the network as well its users. The motive behind the fake profiles generally varies with the type of network
for which they have been created. A growing number of hackers are creating forged identities on network like
Facebook and Twitter to access the personal information of users, to endorse a particular brand or a person, to
defame a user, etc. Adversaries may target professional sites like LinkedIn with the aim to track the activity of
the members or to gain the trust of business professionals . Attackers often target dating websites to take the
advantage of people who looking for companions for monetary purpose, gifts, or personal information.
The paper primarily aims to investigate the reasons which compel a user to create fake identities on the social
networks. However, the purpose for creating forged identities heavily depends on the kind of targeted online
social network. Thus, the paper categorizes the different genre of social networking sites and lists the reasons
for the existence of fake accounts on their networks and how they subvert and exploit the network facilities.
The rest of the article is structured as follows. Section 2 describes different categories of online social
networks. We have categorized them into five categories based on their functions and the type of users on
them. A variety of reasons for establishing fake profiles on different OSN is briefly described in section 2.
Online Social Network (OSN) Categories
Based on the functionalities and facilities provided by OSNs, we have categorized them into five main
categories viz Pure OSNs, Media sharing OSNs, Professional OSNs, Discussions forums and Blogs and
Dating OSNs. Each of the categories has been explained separately with their unique characteristics in the
following subsections.
A) Pure OSNs
As the name given, pure OSNs or simply POSNs are the online social networking websites which play a vital
role in people’s daily social activities including creating new friends, sharing information with existing
friends, discussing events, joining new communities, reading news, etc. Besides that the POSNs facilitate their
members with functionalities like audio and video calling, chatting, updating your current location as a post,
etc. We have briefly described some of the commonly known POSNs in the following sub sections.
1. Facebook
Facebook is a pure online social networking website that allows its members to get connected with their
family and friends on the internet and share their thoughts, opinions, status updates, photos, videos and links
to the websites that they found interesting, important, informative entertaining, amusing, etc. Facebook is
considered as the largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. It was the first
social networking site that crosses the landmark of 1 billion user accounts [1]. Facebook was launched on
February 4, 2004, and currently, it has more than 1.50 billion monthly active users.
Apart from building a social network with friends and relatives, the users can also access several Facebook
apps (paid or free) in order to promote the business, reach to potential customers or sell products online.
Furthermore, different kinds of people use Facebook for different purposes. For example, sociologists use
them to analyze the human behavior and politicians use them to empower their political campaigns, game
lovers especially youth participate in multiplayer games or play single alone games available on Facebook
website general public use them for fun, entertainment, reading news and share information, upload media and
tag their friends, etc. [2][16] [17] [18].
The above paragraph clearly highlights that Facebook is primarily a fun and modern way to play,
communicate and share information among friends. Anyone can easily avail theses facilities by simply having
a verified email address or phone number.
2. Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking site which allows its users post short text (up to 140 number of
characters) messages called tweets on their twitter accounts to convey the message to the world. Unlike
Facebook, it does not have the option to send friend requests. Here, you can follow a person or any
organization you wish to and their tweets will appear on your timeline. Twitter has also covered a massive
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
number of people from different regions of the world. There are more than 300 million monthly active users
on Twitter [1].
A twitter user can have millions of followers based on their popularity. Twitter register members can post
tweets, retweet some friends’ tweets but those who are unregistered can only read them. Like Facebook,
Twitter users can also send the private messages which can be seen only by the person whom they sent. One
interesting thing about Twitter is that it is one-to-many communications medium (broadcasting), as opposed to
Facebook, which is more of a conversational communications medium, one-to-one communications medium
(for example texting).
With the social networking and mounting enthusiasm for online shopping, Twitter also enables its users to
promote their businesses and brands even shop through the tweets directly. Nowadays, large business
organizations use Twitter as a tool extract gain the business value [3].
3. Sina Weibo
Sina Weibo often simply called ‘Weibo’, is China’s one of the biggest social media platforms. ‘Weibo
literally means ‘micro-blog.’ This is a most popular and commonly used micro-blogging social networking
site in China that contains the features of both Twitter and Facebook [4]. Sina Weibo has more than 220
million monthly active users and is gaining the universal popularity.
As it has been clear now that POSNs focus solely on the public social activities, the OSN service
providers are looking for advanced and easy ways to attract more public towards them. For example,
Facebook enables its users to react on a post in six different ways (like, angry, love, wow, haha, sad) and also
allows to have live chat with your friends in a side-by-side conversation. Live chat basically allows the user to
have a video conversation with friends. It is a completely different way to capture social interaction. Similarly,
Twitter and Sina Weibo sites are introducing new functionalities and futures to gain user base.
B) Media Sharing OSNs
Media sharing OSNs are those online social networking websites which are more concerned with photos and
videos rather than texts. Presently, there are several media sharing websites available which engage users by
simply uploading their activities in the form of pictures or sharing videos. In this section, we will explain
some of mostly used and popular ones.
1. Instagram
Instagram is a unique social networking podium that was completely focused and based on sharing photos and
videos with user followers. This social networking platform enables its users to capture the photos using
phone’s camera or any other camera and apply a number of filters on it before publishing it. Instagram also
allows apply multiple filters to the already captured photos and easily post them to other POSNs, such as
Facebook and Twitter. Because of its unique features, it has engaged a huge number of people. It has more
than 400 monthly active users.
2. Youtube
YouTube is the world’s top most video-sharing social networking website presently owned and operated by
tech giant Google that enables users to upload and share videos, view them, comment on them, share them and
like them [5]. This social network is accessible throughout the world and allows the registered to create their
own YouTube channels where they can upload all their personally recorded videos in order to gain popularity
among friends and public and can even earn money. Scientists and academicians upload their experiment and
lecture series to help the new researchers and students respectively.
3. Snapchat
Unlike YouTube, Snapchat is most popular photo-sharing social networking website that enables users to chat
with friends by using pictures. It also allows reading news and explores live stories around the world.
Snapchat provides a unique facility that once the user has uploaded the photo it will automatically disappear
from the website after few seconds in order to ensure the privacy to the users.
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
A photo is worth than hundreds of words
, and it has been seen in every online social network that more
content is in the form of pictures. This is why people often seen uploading photos more catchy and cool than
writing texts. A number of photo and video sharing social networks have been developed from last one decade
and people are highly participating to these sites. The rapid increase in the use of smartphones is continuously
pushing the public towards these sites. These days users can easily take quality pictures with their phones, and
by the help of various apps they can also edit and share these images on media sharing websites as well. There
are several other popular media sharing websites with different functionalities like Flicker is a highly popular
photo-sharing online social networking website which serves as a platform to upload high-quality pictures,
especially by professional photographers or people who love photography, Snapfish [6] is a photo sharing
social networking site that enables its members to upload any number photos unlimited storage space. Now
the user does not have to worry about storage space and can store a vast collection of high-quality pictures.
C) Professional Social Networks
A professional network is a type of OSN focused solely on business-based interactions and relationships
rather than personal, non-business, social interactions
No doubt, we have a huge number of OSNs available for building our social networks but when it comes to
networking professionally online, the different category of sites called professional OSNs are needed.
Professional networks are mostly used by business personals, researchers, academicians, etc. in order to
establish and maintain contacts with other similar professionals and a way to either find opportunities or
enhance their career [7]. We have briefly described some of the commonly known professional OSNs as under
1. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional OSN that allows its members to introduce to other like minded professionals
collaborate with them. It is mainly used by employers for posting jobs and job seekers for posting
their resume. LinkedIn is easy and one of the most popular professional OSNs available in more than 20
languages. It is used by all types of professionals and business individuals to create professional networks,
search and recruit ideal candidates, locate potential customers, etc.[8]. It has more than 350 million members
and more than 90 million monthly active users.
2. Researchgate
ResearchGate is a social networking website especially designed for scientists and researchers to share their
current work, papers, ask and answer questions, and find research funding agencies and collaborators for the
research work. It is considered as the largest academic social network in terms of a number of active users[9].
Besides the professional networking ResearchGate also enables its users to create and join research groups to
discuss several topics with like-minded researchers and to work collaboratively in an interactive environment
and upload projects so that the interested people can collaborate or learn. Researchers can also create their
own Groups and invite fellow researchers to join. Users can create public Groups which open for all
ResearchGate members or private groups to share classified matters. ResearchGate is one of most popular and
commonly used professional OSN to provide extensive information about scientific events such as seminars,
workshops, and conferences. It plays a vital role for scholars to discuss their research work with like-domain
3. Xing
Xing has most of the features same as LinkedIn professional OSN with the users mainly from Switzerland,
Austria, and Germany. However, it enables closed group discussions between specific company members and
business individuals.
XING is a career-oriented social networking website for professionals which provide its members facilities
such as create personal profiles, join groups and discussion forums, and other professional community
features. It's basic membership is free of cost but in order to avail many core functions, like searching for
people of same interest, qualifications, etc or messaging people and connecting to person one is not already
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
connected, one has to be a premium member. Premium membership is not free, usually, comes at a monthly
fee of some dollars.
Professional social networks can enable a company to recruit perfect employees and is considered as a vital
platform for professionals hoping to create business contacts in order to make progress in their career. The
professional OSNs are not limited to above three only, currently, there are various other OSNs especially
designed for business tycoons to expand their professional network like Academica [19] is a website purely
designed for academics where users can share their papers, books, and browse the network of researchers of
their domain.
D) Discussion Forums and Blogs
Discussion forum and blogs are virtual places on the web where people can take part in different
conversations and information can be shared more easily among a group of people irrespective of their
geographical dispersion.
There are four different types of discussion forum including Standard Discussion Forums (SDF), Single
Simple Discussion Forums (SSDF), Question Answer Discussion Forums (QADF) and Each Person
Discussion Forum (EPDF). The SDF is most useful for big discussions such as discussion forums which
provide guidance to scholars or where the students are provided assignments or general questions. SSDFs are
designed to discuss very specific topics only where students are able to reply to a posted topic or other student
answers. The QADF where we want our question to be answered by others on the network and finally the
EPDF is the networking site where every member can ask about anything, relevant, irrelevant, long
discussions, short questions, etc. Users have the freedom to ask and answer any question. We have an
enormous number of discussion forums available, some leading ones are briefly discussed as under
1. Baidu Tieba
Baidu Tieba is a social discussion forum with more than 280 million monthly active users based on the
keyword searches in the Baidu search engine (China’s search engine). This discussion forum enables its users
to create social network groups based on specific topic, using the search option, or to join already existing
online social groups
2. Quora
Quora is a question-answer based social discussion forum where questions are asked, answered, even edited
and organized by users of the group. Actually, the aim of Quora is to create for each question, a page that
contains best possible resource for the public who are interested in that question. It also allows its users to
create homepages based on user interested features and can follow related topics, questions, people, etc.
Currently, the Quora website holds more than 400,000 different topics of questions and answers and every day
hundreds of topics are getting added to the Quora by a huge number of people.
3. Skyrock
Skyrock [10] is an online social networking website that allocates its users a personal storage space online to
create and post blogs, create profiles and exchange messages between other users on the network in seven
different languages. Skyrock was ranked as the world's seventh largest social network with over 21 million
visitors. Skyrock has turned into a social media hub with major functions including blogging, adding a
personal profile and conversation with friends and other site members. Now, is clearly understood that
professional social networks are generally designed to meet the requirements of the professional individuals
like scientists, academicians, and business tycoons.
E) Dating OSNs
Online Dating social networks enable strangers to find and introduce themselves to new persons over
the internet, with the aim to develop personal, romantic, or sexual relationships. These websites allow users to
become members by simply creating a profile and uploading personal information such as age, gender, sexual,
location, etc.
Nowadays these dating OSNs play a great role in online matchmaking, and other wedding services. They
provide users new and most popular ways to meet a new partner. There is a variety of dating OSNs which are
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
growing rapidly and most of them focus on very specific groups or interests. For example, OSNs for seniors
citizens, specific religion people, fitness-oriented people and for the people who are interested in more adult
activities [11]. Here in this section, we will briefly explore some of the coolest and trendy dating OSNs which
are most commonly used by the public for a variety of reasons.
1. Badoo
Badoo is a dating OSN operating in more than 200 countries with more than 20 million monthly active users.
It shares details about people which are very near to you based on their location and residence. It also enables
its users to see who else is on the app in a different area or another part of the world at the same time. Another
unique and free feature provided by Badoo is that it enables its users’ swipe right (yes) or left (no) on other
users' profiles. If there is a match the two users are notified
Match is the largest online dating site where users can send and receive messages from the other like minded
people for the purpose of dates, marriages, and relationships. This dating OSN provides a number of
functionalities to its users like It enables likely dating people to have a conversation over the phone
(matchPhone)[13] without sharing their contact numbers between the two,
allows like-minded people to text message each other anonymously, provides voicemails online service to
listen to numbers. This whole conversation is carried out in a well-controlled manner by the site
administrators to ensure the user's privacy and security as well, users have complete control over who can
contact them and can block someone from calling or texting with just a single click.
3. BeautifulPeople
BeautifulPeople is one the biggest online dating networks which ensure its members to find a perfect match
for them. More than 700 couples have got married with the help of this site. BeautifulPeople is considered as
the largest dating community of attractive and good looking people in the world [14]. People join
BeautifulPeople not only to look for a perfect match but for ideal jobs as well. Besides these things, the
BeautifulPeople dating OSN provides its users a number of facilities including joining events and parties
hosted by a fellow member, membership to clubs, etc.
Nowadays, online dating sites play an important role in creating personal relations with other interested users.
A huge number of online dating services currently exist. Some require membership to get connected to a base
of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships. Other sites are based on features like
interests, location, religion, or relationship type they are seeking, etc. As far as the revenue of these sites is
concerned, some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue, whereas some sites need
registration fee. The technology enables these dating sites users to have phone and text message conversations
while controlling their privacy.
OSN Category
Pure Online Social Network
Facebook, Twitter, Orkut,
Establish social connections, new
friends, share information.
Professional Online Social Network
LinkedIn, Researchgate, Academia,
Establish professional connections,
find job opportunities, research
collaborators, etc.
Discussion Forums and Blogs
Quora, Baidu Tieba, Skyrock
Discuss events and topics, ask
question, answer questions, etc.
Media Sharing OSNs
Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc
Share photos, videos. Comments,
like photos and videos
Dating Online Social Networks
Badoo,, BeautifulPeople,
Create personal relations, ideal
matches, etc.
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
Fake Profiles on Pure Social Networks
According to Facebook an account managing and using by an individual other than his principal account is
fake. Fake profile owners have a number of goals on the mind while creating these fake identities on the social
networking sites including spamming, phishing, clickjacking, harassing or stalking an individual or a group,
defamation, identity theft, personal information disclosure, etc.
There are a number of websites where from the Facebook users can buy thousands of fake fans or
followers for their pages and profiles respectively
. Nowadays buying and selling Facebook fans or followers
is a multi-million dollar business, people especially the programmers code clever piece of software to
automate the creation of profiles.
Several profiles are established and maintained for the purpose of spamming Facebook groups with ads
(Spambots). They promote brands and products for sale, usually the same thing over and over. There are
various other types of fake profiles existing on POSNs such as stalkers- these are the accounts created by
people to track the activities of the person whom they are unable to search using their real accounts, for
example when a user blocks someone making the two invisible to one another. Both the parties can’t see posts
or comments the each other’s, even if they have common friends. Another kind of fake profile is known as
work branded profiles where the user creates another profile on some existing person’s name for the purpose
of fun and entertainment. Page management and add buying accounts is another type of fake accounts being
created on OSNs like Facebook and Sena Webo established by corporate marketers for the purpose of keeping
the control of a Facebook Page separate from individual accounts. These accounts can also be leveraged
for media buying, advertising, sometimes for financial gain and digital blackmail. Similarly, there are troll
accounts maintained by the people in order to quarrel or upset other users, by posting provocative, extraneous,
or irrelevant messages in online groups or user profiles with the intent of provoking readers into
an emotional response. Impersonator is another most heinous of fake Facebook profiles where people are
using another person’s name intentionally to trick other people to belive that they are real persons and later
perform several malicious activities.
Hopefully, we have seen that there are many different reasons why people set up fake accounts. Few are
considered as innocent, whereas few others have dishonest intention. Many POSNs are developing and
incorporating different algorithms and other technologies to detect these fake profiles but still, they exist
everywhere. Therefore we need to take care before joining a network, otherwise, we are likely to get
unacceptable results.
1. Fake profiles on Media sharing OSNs
Fake profiles on photo and video sharing social networks are not new to the market. On media sharing OSNs
like YouTube it has been seen that people re-uploads original content pirated from another YouTube channel
and try to earn ad revenue from it. In other cases, people create fake YouTube channels to defame others by
uploading their confidential or very personal information. Users also subscribe their own channel using other
fake email addresses to increase subscriber count & show yourself as an established YouTube Channel so that
YouTube will serve adds to their channels or to gain the popularity among other YouTubers. Similarly, there
are fake profiles on one of the popular photo sharing site- Instagram, where users create profiles to upload the
content which they don’t want to show to everyone like family and relatives. It has been seen that there is a
fake version of Instagram called Finstagram where a user shares real, unedited and very personal photos
between close circles of friends. Finstagram accounts are mainly setup by teenagers and youngsters to posts
images intended for specific friends only. Besides that, there are various other people who establish and
maintain bogus identities on different media sharing OSNs to perform illegal activities like uploading pictures
and videos against some political parties, group or individual, etc.
2. Fake profiles on Discussion forums and Blogs
OSNs like discussion forums and blogs are the platforms basically created to offer the people a medium to
exchange the information and opinions seamlessly. There can be several reasons which will lead the users to
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
create fake accounts on such networking sites. Posting inappropriate content is one of the reasons for using
fake identities. Discussion forums and blogs allow people to speak their mind but they can also be used as an
effective breeding ground for posting potentially abusive statements. Real users may hide themselves under
fake identities for asking absurd questions, making abusive and hateful comments (racial, sexual, religious,
gender, etc.), sharing violent messages and so on without being any harm.
Fake accounts can also be used to defame an entity such as a person, a group, an organization, etc. Defamation
is the act of destroying the reputation of someone by issuing false, offensive or unjust statements. One can use
forged identities to humiliate and ruin the image of the opposition party. Defamation is a serious and most
observed problem on the Internet forums.
Another reason of forming fake accounts on digital forums includes earning name and fame by false
means. Fake accounts can also be used to make money by endorsing and making bogus claims. One may
pretend influential personality to praise or create the illusion of support for a product and to make other users
believe that a particular product is good to invest money. For instance, two accounts can be created in parallel
to support each other for the sake of advertising. In this case, one account will be used to post reviews for a
product, and another account will be used to reply the post that supports the product which largely fools the
real users into believing the product.
The tendency of people of getting fake views, upvotes, followers, and likes in order to gain popularity also
gives rise to a proliferation of forged accounts. These accounts can also be created, probably by marketing
companies who charge money for farming views and upvotes. In such cases, the fake operator generally does
not question or answer and is only concerned with following and upvoting certain posts. An upvote signifies
in Quora that the answer was helpful and the post with the high upvotes is shown at the top of the forum.
People may even run bots to serve the purpose with least amount of time and effort.
1. Fake Profiles on Professional OSNs
A growing number of hackers are also targeting professional social networks for creating fake profiles.
However, the number of fake accounts is comparatively much lesser than pure OSNs but they do exist here as
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
It is worth to think about why these accounts exist and what attacker usually gains from these sites. Well,
obtaining the personal data that the users share with their connections is the primary reason for the existence
of fake profiles. Adversaries can extract a number of information from their connections, including personal
and professional email addresses as well as phone numbers for a number of malicious activities. For example,
the scraped information could be further exploited to send spear-phishing emails. Fake accounts will also let
the attacker track the activity of the users in order to know who they interact with, who do they know, and
who do they work with and so on. The attacker can know the detailed information about user’s history
Attackers may also create a fake profile to trick the employees of an organization into talking and sharing
sensitive and confidential details by pretending that they are employees of the same organization. Fake
profiles can also be used to run hate campaigns. One can gather the e-mail address, pretend an employee of an
opponent company and issue public insulting messages on their name. Fake users may also show themselves
as recruiters for fake firms. Real recruiters have already been using the service for finding potential
candidates. Therefore, under the guise of a recruiter, these fake accounts can easily enter into the networks of
real business professionals since real users also expect to be contacted by recruiters. Fake recruiters can lure
the job seekers into giving up valuable information.
LinkedIn is a prime target for scammers who are looking to get connected with professionals in a variety of
industries. It helps them to map out the networks of business professionals and establish a sense of credibility
among professionals. The fake profile can also be designed to appear more qualified than reality in order to
get higher level people like CEO’s to get connected when they normally would not. Furthermore, the fake
accounts can stuff their profiles with keywords like "Electrical Engineer", "Security Manager", etc in order to
gain more visibility and classified information. On the sites like ResearchGate, fake profiles might be created
to claim illegal authorship of other’s work as their own. More interestingly, ResearchGate itself has been
accused for setting up fake accounts for scholars and academicians who never registered on the site and also
for posting articles without authors’ permission [21].
2. Fake profiles on Dating OSNs
Most of the fake profiles on dating sites have the aim to create illegal connections like sexual relations, etc.
There are a number of brides and groom fake profiles on who have setup their profiles on some
other names and looking for ideal partners. Once someone shows interest in them they start taking advantage
by requesting the personal contact numbers and other personal information. Usually, they cheat people and
play with their emotions.
One of the most dangerous people on dating OSNs is Catfishers [15]- a person who uses the online dating
websites to tempt people into a scam romance. Catfisher’s main aim is financial gain, by establishing an
online relationship with other users and ultimately asking for money. Catfishers exploit fake profiles to lure
weak women into falling in love and transferring cash and other beneficial stuff to them. Besides financial
gain, other goals of these phantom profiles are to gain pleasure from online communications and
The issue of the fake online dating profile is rising like a tsunami and continues sinks all the real singles out
there in online dating land. It has been estimated that in every 10 online dating profiles at least one is
accounted as fake, and per year more than $50 million is lost to romance scams. Fake online dating has
opened the gates for liars, thieves, cheaters, and the sex industry to take the benefit from online dating sites.
A number of OSNs has been developed from last two decades to ease the social life of netizens and other
specific individuals. OSNs have been developed for almost every kind people ranging from business tycoons
to an ordinary unemployed individual, from fun and entertainment loving public to ideal match seeking
people. But unfortunately, some specific community of people is exploiting theses OSNs for their personal
benefit. The existence of fake profiles on these OSNs is one of the critical issues encountered by normal users.
Adversaries create different kinds of fake profiles on different categories of OSNs with different intents. For
example on POSNs fake profiles are created to share some illegal, unlawful content like hatred speech,
Figure 1: Categories of Online Social Networks and reasons for fake profiles
Mudasir Ahmad Wani, Muzafar Ahmad Sofi,Suheel Yousuf Wani
International Journal of Engineering Technology Science and Research
ISSN 2394 3386
Volume 4, Issue 9
September 2017
pornography, etc. professional OSNs are also suffering from the flood of forgery accounts which are
established by the people to obtain professional contacts and critical business information. Similarly other
categories of OSNs (Media sharing, Dating, and Discussion forums and Blogs ) experience a variety of
uncharacteristic users intended to perform a number of malicious activities including identity theft, catfishing,
stalking, trolling, financial gain, get fake followers and subscribers, advertising, etc.
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... BeautifulPeople və s.) saxta profilin məqsədi zəif görünümlü (emosional olaraq) insanı seçmək, onun bu zəif cəhətindən yararlanaraq bəzi məlumatları ələ keçirib, sonra təhdid yolu ilə pul tələb etmək ola bilər. Tanışlıq saytlarında bu tip əməllərlə məşğul olan insan "catfisher" adlanır [1,2]. ...
... Müzakirə forumlarında (Baidu Tieba, Quora, Skyrock və s.) saxta profillər irqçiliyi təbliğ edə bilər. Digərləri tərəfindən xoş qarşılanmayacaq mövzuları populyarlaşdıra bilər, yalan sorğular, məlumatlar paylaşa bilər ki bu halların da nəticəsi yaxşı bitməyə bilər [1]. ...
... İşgüzar sosial şəbəkələrdə (LinkedIn, Researchgate, Academia, Opportunity) saxta profillər bir başqasının gördüyü işləri özəlləşdirə bilər. Bu da qeyri-etikhərəkətdir [1,3]. ...
... Adapun tujuan untuk melakukan catfishing adalah untuk menjalin hubungan romantik via media daring (Prastyphylia, 2014). Pada dasarnya, walaupun samasama berada dalam kategori menggunakan informasi palsu, catfish sendiri berbeda dengan impersonation dan juga poser karena catfish lebih condong kepada online dating scams (Ahmad et al., 2017). ...
... Namun, terlepas dari berbagai manfaat yang ditimbulkan oleh SNS, ada hal yang dapat mengancam para penggunanya apabila tidak diedukasi dan tidak memiliki pengetahuan yang cukup mengenai hal ini. Kemudahan memilih identitas di internet kerap kali dimanfaatkan pihak-pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab sebagai media untuk melakukan kejahatan seperti penipuan identitas (Wani Ahmad et al., 2017). ...
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The development of Social Networking Sites have affected the users. One phenomena is identity deception, widely known as 'catfish.’ Catfish appears because users can choose their own identities on social networking sites. Users may choose an identity that is considered ideal identity, even though it does not reflect the reality. In this situation, identity is being constructed and used to achieve something. This can be a threat for social networking sites users because it can be considered an infringement in the use of social networking sites. This study discuss the regulation made by the Indonesian government to deal with the threat of catfish as a form of identity deception. The research method used was the qualitative method.
... To combat unwanted context collapse, teens often create fake social media accounts (Smith, Smith, & Blazka, 2017;Wani, Sofi, & Wani, 2017). One version of fake accounts is called Finsta, which is short for "fake Instagram". ...
... Dissemination of false information in social media that develops rapidly affects the community and patterns of disseminating its message [6]. Another study examines anomaly users in various categories of online social networks [7], as well as the implications or impacts of social media and social networking on students and the education world [8]. Several studies have also been carried out to identify and prevent identity fraud on social media [2] and [9], including establishing hybrid schemes to detect fake accounts on Facebook [10]. ...
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Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook enable the creation of virtual customer environments (VCEs) where online communities of interest form around specific firms, brands, or products. While these platforms can be used as another means to deliver familiar e-commerce applications, when firms fail to fully engage their customers, they also fail to fully exploit the capabilities of social media platforms. To gain business value, organizations need to incorporate community building as part of the implementation of social media. This article starts by describing the Fortune 500's use of four of the most popular social media platforms-Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and client-hosted forums-to interact with customers. We then argue that to gain full business value from social media, firms need to develop implementation strategies based on three elements: mindful adoption, community building, and absorptive capacity. Next, we use case studies of three Fortune 100 corporations to illustrate how they are managing their respective networks of social media applications. Finally, we provide guidelines for implementing social media.
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Games built on Online Social Networks (OSNs) have become a phenomenon since 3rd party developer tools were released by OSNs such as Facebook. However, apart from their explosive popularity, little is known about the nature of the social networks that are built during play. In this paper, we present the findings of a network analysis study carried out on two Facebook applications, in comparison with a similar but stand-alone game. We found that games built both on and off a social graph exhibit similar social properties. Specifically, the distribution of player-to-player interactions decays as a power law with a similar exponent for the majority of players. For games built on the social network platform however, we find that the networks are characterised by a sharp cut-off, compared with the classically scale-free nature of the social network for the game not built on an existing social graph.
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This study explores how candidates running for the European Parliament (EP) in 2009 used micro-blogging and online social networks – in this case Twitter ( in the early stage of its adoption – to communicate and connect with citizens. Micro-blogging in general, and Twitter in particular, is one of the new and popular Web 2.0 applications, yet there has been little research focusing on the use of Twitter by politicians. After reviewing different types of campaigning strategies and introducing a new and distinct strategy, this descriptive and exploratory study focuses on political candidates' use of micro-blogging and online social networking (i.e. Twitter) from a longitudinal, social network, and ideological perspective. The results clearly show that most candidates in 2009 still used Twitter reluctantly. Those who used Twitter did so predominantly for electoral campaigning and only sparingly for continuous campaigning. Candidates from progressive parties are the most active users of Twitter as a campaigning tool, whereas conservatives are virtually absent online. Although candidates' first degree networks are still relatively small and unconnected, their second degree networks are quite extensive. Candidates from parties in opposition have more extensive first degree networks than those from ruling parties. Candidates from fringe parties show small online networks.
Here, we review the research we have conducted on social contagion. We describe the methods we have employed (and the assumptions they have entailed) to examine several datasets with complementary strengths and weaknesses, including the Framingham Heart Study, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and other observational and experimental datasets that we and others have collected. We describe the regularities that led us to propose that human social networks may exhibit a 'three degrees of influence' property, and we review statistical approaches we have used to characterize interpersonal influence with respect to phenomena as diverse as obesity, smoking, cooperation, and happiness. We do not claim that this work is the final word, but we do believe that it provides some novel, informative, and stimulating evidence regarding social contagion in longitudinally followed networks. Along with other scholars, we are working to develop new methods for identifying causal effects using social network data, and we believe that this area is ripe for statistical development as current methods have known and often unavoidable limitations. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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The use of social networking software by professionals is increasing dramatically. How it is used, whether it enhances or reduces productivity, and how enterprise-friendly design and use might evolve are open questions. We examine attitudes and behaviors in a large, technologically-savvy organization through a broad survey and thirty focused interviews. We find extensive social and work uses, with complex patterns that differ with software system and networker age. Tensions arise when use spans social groups and the organization's firewall. Although use is predominantly to support weak ties whose contribution to productivity can be difficult to prove, we anticipate rapid uptake of social networking technology by organizations.
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YouTube is one of the most well-known and widely discussed sites of participatory media in the contemporary online environment, and it is the first genuinely mass-popular platform for user-created video. In this timely and comprehensive introduction to how YouTube is being used and why it matters, Burgess and Green discuss the ways that it relates to wider transformations in culture, society and the economy.----- The book critically examines the public debates surrounding the site, demonstrating how it is central to struggles for authority and control in the new media environment. Drawing on a range of theoretical sources and empirical research, the authors discuss how YouTube is being used by the media industries, by audiences and amateur producers, and by particular communities of interest, and the ways in which these uses challenge existing ideas about cultural ‘production’ and ‘consumption’.----- Rich with concrete examples and featuring specially commissioned chapters by Henry Jenkins and John Hartley, the book is essential reading for anyone interested in the contemporary and future implications of online media. It will be particularly valuable for students and scholars in media, communication and cultural studies.
Twilio Blog , Lets Online Daters Call or Text Message without Revealing Their Phone Numbers
  • Dan Kaplan
Dan Kaplan (January 23, 2012 )Twilio Blog, Lets Online Daters Call or Text Message without Revealing Their Phone Numbers, last accessed 15-07-2016