A US Army contract announcement seeks assistance battling a problem that may seem like just a figment of the imagination – fake social media profiles. Since the first days after Facebook began opening itself up to other than .edu email addresses, .mil faces have been a prime target for scams. Grab a profile photo off of the internet or the US Army home page, create a good story and start connecting. While fake profiles can be reported to the social networking sites, it’s like whack-a-mole – for every account shut down, a new one appears.
The scenario is simple – fake social media profiles are created and gullible men and women are hustled into giving up money, phone cards or information. When I worked for the US Army I had to tell a few crushed souls that the Chief of the US Army, was, in fact happily married and was probably not soliciting love on Match.com. Most profiles are less auspicious, but they do generally contain actual photos and some accurate profile information.
The US Army contract request seeks a commercial-off-the-shelf solution to the fake social media profiles problem. They seek to track fake profiles on sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Skype, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as other social media platforms as they arise. The current contract announcement is information-seeking only, with implementation to follow.
The announcement comes on the heels of continued requests for social media monitoring as a part of the security clearance background investigations process. One issue that has barely been addressed is the problem of mistaken identity. Outside of requesting individuals provide their user names and passwords, itt’s hard difficult to verify what you see online. Throwing out fake social media profiles alone will probably not be enough to prevent malicious accounts online. But removing fake social media posts is a step in the right direction toward ensuring an individuals’ online reputation is legitimate.