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April 22, 2009

Have you seen a "Facebook ghost?"

Posted: 01:12 PM ET

There have been several reports of privacy scams on Facebook, and "Facebook ghosts" have surfaced as a new iteration of the trend.

Earlier this month, Yahoo! Sports created a ton of buzz when it reported one NFL team allegedly uses fake Facebook profiles to tempt recruits into unknowingly handing over their personal information.

One popular Facebook "ghost" was a blond female temptress, the site reports.

The team allegedly would use these fake profiles to get friend-level access to recruits' information on the site. The thinking there is that if a team official spots a player in Facebook photos smoking dope or partying hard, the team might avoid a bad draft pick and a potential public relations problem.

The fake profiles are called "ghosts" because they disappear soon after they surface.

I wonder if this technique exists in other spheres of recruiting? At law firms? At banks? In other sports?

There's no hard evidence the NFL ghost-profile incident is part of a trend, said Justin Smith, editor of the blog Inside Facebook, which tracks the social networking site.

More often, people leak information from their Facebook pages accidentally by posting messages their bosses or colleagues can see.

It would be difficult for Facebook to prevent scams similar to the one allegedly used by NFL teams without requiring users to input personal information when setting up an account, Smith said. That's something that's unlikely to happen, he said, because social network users would move elsewhere.

The best trick, perhaps, is to be leery of strangers who want to be your friend on the site. Here are some other tips for protecting your profile:

From Facebook
From AllFacebook
From Tamar

Do you know of examples of Facebook "ghost" profiles appearing in an effort to access your private information? Is this a concern, and if so, what should be done? Your thoughts could turn into a future story.

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Healthy Paranoia   April 26th, 2009 8:47 pm ET

I don't understand why people "friend up" complete strangers. It's an easily-avoided problem–just don't accept anyone you don't personally know as a friend. It's not that hard and frankly, if you are working, doing your chores, and having a real life, you really don't have time to be keeping up with more than about 30 people. It's not that hard, either, to be picky about your apps, although I think Facebook needs to put a tight rein on these apps and their creators.

Want to rein in your potential ghosts? Then it's time to do like the rest of us do and organize all those hundreds of people like I did: group them and put restriction levels on what they see, what they access, and what your friends can post about you. Anyone who doesn't is blatantly irresponsible and really shouldn't be working a job anywhere anyway because they obviously don't know how to utilize technology, don't know how to separate work from home (i.e. be a professional), and they won't be very private nor secure with their company's information.

:::Philebrity…media, culture, music and more::: » Blog Archive » Prematurely Waxing Nostalgic About Facebook   July 20th, 2010 11:27 am ET

[...] “panic button” intended to protect users ages 13 to 18.- Ghosts are haunting Facebook: Dead or alive.- Privacy issues abound. Still.- And with all that going on, the growth of new Facebook users is [...]

Ed   August 9th, 2010 6:59 am ET

This is nothing new. I used to be a PI, and would often get LOADS of information from people's social network profiles. I have long since stopped posting ANYTHING that could be taken in a negative light...since I kinda figured this "trend" of spying (if you will) would catch on quickly, and eventually employers, clients, future customers, and governments (local, state, and federal), would use social network profiles to gather information and even help convict people. WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD!!!

hillbilleter   August 10th, 2010 2:07 pm ET

Social networks are not private and never have been. People should never enter personal information in a public venue and expect it to magically be private. In a paraphrase of my grandmother's tip about talking to children: Don't put information online that you don't want shouted from the rooftops.

Facebook only recently started displaying people's phone numbers, and members had to go into their settings to make them private again. Mine was never entered in the first place.

Russ   August 18th, 2010 8:24 pm ET

Or, you could just not have a Facebook account. And all of this goes away (or never is).

John Smith   August 19th, 2010 11:51 pm ET

I have received multiple friend requests from people I haven't heard of and have just recently opened facebook accounts within about a week period. Every time they show a picture of an attractive female who has a very low friend count..which typically never happens...I've been wondering about this for months now

Suzanne   August 24th, 2010 3:12 pm ET

Don't friend people you don't know and set all your security to friends only.

Teri   September 3rd, 2010 11:56 pm ET

One more reason not to friend people you don't know. I don't understand why some people want to be friend collectors. Are they really that desperate for attention?

Jenni   September 5th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

I have a protection order from a man who is an abuser and hurt my girls (peddo). He has often used facebook 'ghost' to get friend status from my girls and mysef. He even takes the time to first become friends of their friends then invites them. We don't accept any friends we don't no friends of friends or anything suspecious.
It isn't anything we can prove in court, no way we can prove it's him. We can only be very careful

Megan   September 7th, 2010 12:55 pm ET

Collection companies do it too. I have a debt collector friend who says he has 6 ghosts, all attractive women, who friend men and try to pull as much as they can off FB – like if the person's working, they can get the work number. He's gotten several numbers that way that they were unable to skip trace.

It's sick, but he says it works.

John   September 14th, 2010 2:35 pm ET

When I get friend requests from someone I don't know, I check out their profile to see if they have any connection to me; i.e. mutual friends, a shared school or network, etc.. The people that I refuse and would consider 'facebook ghosts' tend to be those with the most generic and sparse personal information. Facebook overall seems to be a big data mining operation, and it would be beneficial for more people to be aware of that.

Martin   September 16th, 2010 1:22 am ET

Hi John – to answer your question if this happens in other spheres of recruiting: yes. In fact, I'm assuming the sporting world took their cue from the corporate world.

I'm a recruiter (corporate, not sports), and while it's not something I think is particularly ethical, it's been done on a regular basis by peers of mine since for years. Heck, I think some of them even tried it on Friendster, back in the day.

Bottom-line advice for job candidates: get your privacy filters up, create lists (have one for off-color pics & remarks, eg, that only includes people you know well), and don't say anything you wouldn't want your interviewers to read. Because they probably will.

silver1600   September 16th, 2010 10:23 pm ET

Without ignoring all the advice to use good sense about facebook settings, there's at least one troublesome trend to this NFL ghost-profile thing.

Why do so many Americans these days see little wrong with corporations (worth billions) waltzing into the privates lives of individuals? Is it for the sake of securing a measly paycheck? While one can't be asked about personal religious beliefs during a corporate interview, imagine what nuances might turn up in our facebook account?

America as a society, perhaps with a few exceptions, has fought vigorously in the past to keep governmental intrusion at a distance. Why such easy acceptance of corporate intrusion a la NFL ghost-profile? How many degrees of difference are there between a corporation deceiving us to gain access to our facebook account and a corporation sneaking a peak at our cell phone record?

klmemphis   October 18th, 2010 10:08 am ET

getting in touch with facebook is like getting pee out of a swimming pool
it cant be done. their help and support center is a joke and their phone number is just a run-around that only has a recording that hangs up after their little speech.i had my account disabled and i am trying to get it back.i have left e-mail after e-mail and have gotten zero, none, no response after weeks. i got no warning or explanation of why my account was disabled. getting in touch with facebook is impossible unless they get in touch with you, which is very very unlikely..................

Abraham Lim   December 24th, 2010 10:43 pm ET

Yes! I think there is still exist. Please look into it.

Welcome any American to be our venture partner in Malaysia. Our business is booming yeah!.......

God bless you and wishing you and your country fellows a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Doug   August 3rd, 2011 10:10 pm ET

Doug is the CEO & President at Mobilezapp. Doug is a scam and stolen form his employees many times. $25k cash ? He can't even pay $225 to his employees !
He has his profiles all over net not just on facebook, hired people from as well, he is big time scams and still stealing from companies in USA .

Nicolas   October 25th, 2011 11:46 am ET

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Granny   September 30th, 2012 2:27 am ET

What is facebook security doing to solve the problem with Facebook ghosts who are hidden and we the user can not unfriend.? My ghost is called Liberty House. How are users going to remove this ghosts from our friends list.? Actually don't think this ghost is residing on facebook but on a hidden file within my facebook account.

Also on facebook the security is https but then when you enter the games portion it changes to http and they want me to fix this??? DUH??

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