Thursday, 7 February 2013

How to Spot Fake Social Media Profiles

Fake profiles on Twitter are nothing new, and in the world of online dating they're quite common as well. You might think LinkedIn has escaped all this, but it hasn't. Help is at hand, however, because some of the tools used for other social networks work just as well on LinkedIn.

Stock Photos

Recently I was intrigued by a profile thrown up by LinkedIn's "people you may know" feature. Something looked a bit off about the photo, which had me looking at the rest:
I've hidden the company names, as they are all apparently legitimate. We'll come back to the photo, but notice the lack of details supplied for the three roles listed under experience, the 500+ connections, and the fact that she's a 2nd level connection - i.e. people I know apparently know her. Or not, based on my checks.

Back to that photo. It looks a bit like a stock photo, and that's because it is. You can click here to see it listed on a stock photo web site. So, if we come across a photo, suspicious or otherwise, and we want to check it out, how can we do this? Google Image Search is a good option, but there's another useful search tool called TinEye which comes in really handy for this. It's a reverse image search, so you give it an image, and it finds instances of it on the web.

Give it a try now, the URL of the stock photo is
- just copy this and paste it into the box on the TinEye home page, and you'll get over 600 results.

Magazine Photos

This second LinkedIn profile is a public one, so you don't need to be logged in to LinkedIn to view it, here's the link:

Let's put TinEye to work straight away. The URL for the image is
and TinEye will find 7 hits for this, and from looking at them you'll discover that this is, in fact, Indian film actress and model Trisha Krishnan. You can view the original cover of Maxim which featured this photo by clicking here.


I've mentioned before that it's important to use a photo, and to use the right photo, on your LinkedIn profile, so I should add that the "right photo" should NOT be of someone else, as it makes you look suspicious. Equally if you're approached by someone with a dubious looking photo, tools like TinEye are a quick and easy way to check. Incidentally, there are browser plugins available which you can use to cut out the copy and paste effort, and they are well worth adding to your browser.

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