Social media trends are like underwear, they change often and sometimes smell foul. If you're on Facebook, you might have noticed that some of your friends and family have posted scripted messages about accounts being cloned, and not to trust duplicate friend requests if you receive one. It sounds like a valid warning with Facebook's recent security breach, but is it for real? Probably not.
Facebook really did fess up to a "security issue" a couple of weeks ago, and noted that almost 50 million accounts may have been affected by it. The attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook's code that impacted "View As," a feature that lest people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. The attackers were then able to steal access tokens that could be used to take over someone's account.
The breach is concerning, and it has led to messages like this one:
"Heads-up!! Almost every account is being cloned. Your picture and your name are used to create a new Facebook account (they don't need your password to do this this). They want your friends to add them to their Facebook account. Your friends will think that it's you and accept your request. From that point on they can write what they want under your name. I have NO plans to open a new account. Please DO NOT accept a 2nd friend request from 'me'. Please forward to all your contacts," the message reads.
Other messages look like this:
"Hi....I actually got another friend request from you yesterday...which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears...then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too....I had to do the people individually. Good Luck!," the message states.
This is not a matter of being hacked, but involves someone setting up a duplicate account with the same profile picture as the person being targeted, and then sending friend requests to their existing friends. That does actually happen. However, Facebook told a local ABC News affiliate in Syracuse that it has not seen a rise in cloned accounts. Instead, the social network believes the warnings have viral out of fear of the recent breach.
To that end, Facebook says none of this related to the security breach. Profile cloning is nothing new, and if you happen to notice that someone's account has been cloned, it's a separate incident. And if Facebook is to believed, it's happening at the same clip as before the security breach.
If you think your account has been cloned, head over to Facebook's support page to report the incident.