As Google+ becomes less of a “ghost town” in some people’s eyes, it’s only natural that some will look to exploit the use of Google+ for their own gain. While some real Google+ users make some rather common mistakes, many people will look to create fake Google+ accounts in hopes of manipulating others.
Some do their best to mask the fact the Google+ account is fake (like creepy Bert & Ernie above). However, I have revealed how easy it is to spot fake Twitter followers, so let’s take a look at how to spot a fake Google+ account.
While this is not a definite red flag, it can be used as an indicator of someone who was too lazy to upload an image to use for their profile. Social networking sites are built off making personal connections with others. One of the most basic ways to do this is to allow people to put a face with a name.
If you see an account that posts quite a bit to their stream but can’t take 10 seconds to upload a profile image, you might want to question the validity of that account.
On my Google+ account, I make an effort to always respond to every comment left. At worst, I at least give a “+1” to a comment if I can’t provide anything additional to the conversation.
Many fake Google+ accounts do not have any interaction with others. The majority simply post and never look to interact with others. In the end, these types of fake Google+ accounts are mainly looking for click-throughs to the URLs they are posting about.
Another sign that can be associated with a fake Google+ account is that they follow a high amount of users. Not only do they follow a high amount of users, there are very few of those people that follow back.
One of the nice things about Google+ is that you can actually control whether or not you want to show the number of users you follow or even the number of users following you on your profile. Whereas on a site like Twitter, there is not a way to hide this info, so spotting potential fake accounts is a bit easier than on Google+.
However, if there are a large number of users following back, then you should see a decent amount of commenting and interaction on the fake account profile. If they have a large number of people they are following or following back with minimal interaction, chances are the fake account in question could be part of a larger Google+ fake account network.
This one is rather simple. A Google+ account that only posts content to a single domain is typically a sign of a fake account. If it is not a fake account, then they sure like to “toot their own horn” with an overabundance of blatant self promotion.
No one likes to hear someone talk about themselves all the time. The same can be said for social media sites. Yes, you should promote your own work, but sharing other people’s content shows you are real. It shows you care about what others have to say and feel the need for others to hear the message as well.
While not everyone has chosen to use a custom Google+ profile URL, chances are that if an account has a custom one then it has a better chance of being a real account. A custom URL allows you to have a “vanity” URL such as:
However, becoming eligible for a custom URL is rather easy and you only need to meet a few requirements as disclosed here.
Most fake accounts won’t take the time to meet the needed requirements to acquire a custom URL. Specifically because they require the account to be at least 30 days old and to have a profile picture.
Most fake Google+ profiles won’t take the time to complete their “about” section of their profile. Instead, this section with probably be empty. If you are lucky, you might see a link to the site they are pushing.
The about section on Google+ is a great way to tell users who you are and what you are about. In addition to providing some insight about yourself, you can easily add links to other social profiles as well as sites that you contribute to. This completed information allows others to learn quite a bit about you.
One reason someone would create a fake Google+ account is that they either wanted to leave reviews for a specific company (perhaps their own), or that they wanted to leave negative reviews on their competitor.
When looking at the reviews an account has left, if all their reviews are with a negative tone towards businesses within the same industry it is typically a red flag of a fake account. Even if they only have one review with a negative tone, I would be wary that it is a fake account.
Additionally, if the account has countless reviews left for businesses all over the world (and not a single geographic region), more than likely it is not a real account.
If the Google+ account does not post any content, have any interaction, or has other signs I have mentioned but has a fairly active reviews section then chances are it is a fake Google+ account.
While the +1 button struggles to catch on, looking at the history of +1’s an account has can help you decipher whether or not it might be a fake Google+ account. Unless a user has the setting of their account to hide +1’s, you can easily browse their +1’s.
When looking through the sites they have +1’ed, if all of them are from the same root domain more than likely it is a fake account. Of course, they could be into the whole self promotion thing, but it is something to be on the look out for.
A recent feature Google+ rolled out is the displaying of the profile views on your profile. This view count includes profile views, image views, and post views. Since this has been added, I have noticed quite a few accounts that have a high number of followers have very low views.
To me, this indicates that the accounts following it are not real themselves. So if I see an account with 10,000+followers but only has 40,000 views, it shows me that the account is not engaged with and it may very well have a large following of fake accounts.
There you have it. 9 ways to find out if a Google+ account might be fake. Keep in mind that just because an account may fit one of these criteria, it does not necessarily mean it is a fake one. You will need to use your own judgement to determine whether or not it is fake.
What signs do you look for to spot a fake Google+ account? Be sure to let me know in the comments below.