When a few of my family members started using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I was quickly reminded of how humans seem to be naturally inclined to believe everything they see in print. I had to cover a few basics with them once they started interacting on social media platforms because they initially went through a phase where they believed, in some instances, that they were interacting with real people when it fact they were actually just interacting with bots.
Keep the following tips in mind if you are new to social media, they may help you identify fictitious online accounts (and the rule is to just ignore them or if they are posting threats then report them):
- look at the list of followers the person has and ask yourself: does each follower have a “perfectly beautiful face and model clothing?” – if so then the person is probably not real and neither are any of their followers
- look at the list of followers the person has and ask yourself: does the person have a very small number of followers (like 10) but they are following thousands of people? – if so, then the person is probably not real
- does the person only forward existing posts from other people and never actually say anything themselves? – if so, then the person is probably not real
- does the person only post the same “type” of material all day long? (like they only post quotes from famous people, never posting anything “genuine”) – if so, then the person is probably not real
- does the person send private messages to you that are generic phrases that would apply to a million scenarios? (like this: “Hey, so nice to meet you, it is a big world out there, I like to connect) – if so, then the person is probably not real
- does the person post messages at the same interval each day (like at the top of every hour or every day at exactly 2:30pm) then the person is probably not real
Avoid using social media for anything other than socializing. Obtaining news about current events for your community and nation should be obtained from traditional news organizations who have a track record of many years of attempting to produce facts for the public.