Detecting Duplicate Facebook Accounts

There are a lot of useful pages out there for detecting fake Facebook accounts, but few for detecting duplicate Facebook accounts.   The reasons one might have 2 or more Facebook accounts would be to (a) hide the one she used in college from her (prospective) employer by putting up a duplicate with her proper and well-dressed for a job interview (b) keep circles of friends mutually exclusive, like school and work, or (c) shake the trail of an investigation into their account or whereabouts.

Approaching from an investigative standpoint, if you’re trying to locate a person but it’s leading nowhere, start looking through their friends and family first.  If you’re trying to link 2 accounts to the same person here are some tips:

  1. look for common photos, photos of different people in the same background, photos of the same people in different backgrounds
  2. A and B might have some commonalities in their name: first and last name transposed, first name/middle name and first/last, first/nick/last and first/last, first name/last initial and first initial/lastname
  3. look for a 1-month window of overlap in their Timeline, so A might have their last post on March 1, 2014, then B might have “joined Facebook on March 15, 2014”
  4. look in the postings of A to see if B is mentioned, especially long posts where A is pouring his heart out
  5. look for a common circle of friends.  For a duplicate profile to look legitimate, it should have a bunch of friends local to the area in it.  So A and B each might have 25 friends, but they share 20 of the same friends.  That looks suspicious

Web Identity Search Tool (WIST) is helpful to find duplicates.  In the case below, the duplicate had an initial in his handle that pointed to the original profile with full name indicated by the arrow.

using WIST to detect duplicate accounts on FB

Also reinforcing the likelihood of a duplication was that the last post on the original coincided within 1 week of the duplicate’s “Facebook join date”.  So make sure you find a combination of factors that can point to the fact that any 2 Facebook accounts are duplicate.

Learn more about WIST