By: Wilson Chua
On April 30, 2018, I chanced upon this innocent looking but alarming Facebook page shown below:
If Facebook users were to click on the “Suggested pages”, it will take them to a fake company page. This fake page looks like Farmout Central Intouch Inc. It was designed to fool people.
Facebook made this worse.
Facebook’s “Suggested Page” lends legitimacy to the fake page. Also, the use of Facebook “Friend likes” adds an element of “social pressure” for readers to click on the page. I am referring to the “Wushu liked this”. Facebook used the same mechanism to influence voter turnout
How it hurts Facebook readers
The fake Facebook page could lure users into applying for positions at the call center. The users will have to give up their personal details. Things like age, sex, religion, place of birth and educational background. Credit card and mobile phone operators use these same details to verify one’s identity. The fooled readers’ identities are soon stolen.
We are in good company.
This Facebook inaction seems to be rampant in the industry. RJ David, founder of Sulit.com.ph shared “Sulit before had at one time a couple of dozens of fake groups and pages. Our team was tracking them using an excel sheet until FB takes them down which takes a lot of time.”
What can a victim company do?
We can report it. We reported this faked page to Facebook since late last year. Our social media team and I used the Facebook Reporting feature to inform Facebook of the fake site.
Over the course of several months, we informed Facebook of the fake page. We also messaged the fake site owner to ask them to take the page down. We have been waiting for at least 4 months.
Tzar Umang, a co-founder over at BASS, did the same thing. All he got was this curt challenge from the fake page admin “Do it take it down”. Facebook failed to act on these many reports.
Companies can also preempt this. Martin Gomez (Shopee) suggests that the best route to take is for companies to have “verified pages”. Page Admins can go to the Settings, General, Page Verification to start the process.
Sadly, legally nothing can be done. Atty Francis Acero of the National Privacy Commission shared that the Anti-squatting provisions in RA 10175 does not apply here. It did not involve the registration of a domain name. Congress needs to address this “fake page” loophole.
Some hard Questions for Facebook
Why is it so easy to setup fake pages on Facebook and so hard for victim companies to ask Facebook to take it down?
Why is the process arbitrary? While it takes a long time for fake pages to be taken down, legitimate sites suffer from inordinate haste. Take the case of ISOC-PH whose posts, FB has taken down many times.
Why is Facebook promoting fake sites at all? Shouldn’t it be doing more due diligence to help prevent its readers from being fooled?
- The imposter Page in question has been removed from Facebook.
- We do not allow misleading or impersonating Pages on Facebook. This includes Pages which falsely and intentionally represent themselves as an official entity or public figure, and Pages which act in an unauthorized manner, giving the impression – intentionally or not – that the page is official or authorized by the official entity/figure.
- Our Community Standards team review reports 24/7 and we have teams dedicated to the safety and integrity of Pages on Facebook. Sometimes these teams make mistakes, but we’re committed to doing better and we’re continually working to improve our enforcement of our Page policies.
I am told that as of this writing, Facebook is still investigating this issue