Catfish beware: Facebook is working on a feature to alert users of online impersonation

Is someone impersonating you on Facebook?.
Is someone impersonating you on Facebook?. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

If someone was impersonating you on Facebook, wouldn’t you want to know?

The social network is testing a new feature that would automatically scan over one billion user profiles to find so-called catfish accounts impersonating real people, according to a report by Mashable.

“Catfish” has become a popular term for someone who pretends to be someone else using fake pictures on Facebook and other social media sites.

If Facebook detects a fake account using your name or information an alert would be sent to you asking you to verify whether  the account in question is using your personal information or photos to impersonate you, or if it’s a false alarm.

READ MORE: Facebook wants to detect new slang terms before they become cool

The feature is already live for 75 per cent of Facebook users and will eventually be live for all users.

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According to Mashable’s report, the feature is a result of ongoing discussions with users, activists and women’s groups about how to make social media safer for women.

“We heard feedback prior to the roundtables and also at the roundtables that this was a point of concern for women,” Facebook’s Head of Global Safety Antigone Davis told Mashable.

“And it’s a real point of concern for some women in certain regions of the world where it [impersonation] may have certain cultural or social ramifications.”

READ MORE: This is how Facebook is changing its ‘real names’ policy after harsh criticism

Technically, impersonation is already banned under Facebook’s controversial “real names” policy, which requires that users go by their “authentic name,” rather than a pseudonym, when using the social media site. Of course, that doesn’t stop it from happening.

Mashable also reported that Facebook is working on an additional tool that will allow users to report non-consensual private photos – otherwise known as “revenge porn.”

The option would be found under Facebook existing tool that allow users to report nudity. The new feature would allow users to report themselves as the subject of the photo, marking it as a non-consensual image.

Can I report a fake account on Facebook?

If you have spotted a Facebook account impersonating you, Facebook does have a system in place for you to report it.

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First, go to the fake profile and then click the “…” symbol on their cover photo. Select “Report” and follow the on-screen instructions.

Facebook has additional information on its website.

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