The recent surge in “Facebook clones” or dummy accounts or fake Facebook profile pages caused alarm among many netizens, including my friends and family members. Imagine, my husband had to report five blank and duplicate Facebook profiles that were “pretending to be me.” As of this writing, Facebook removed only one of my three clone accounts.

National Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said it was too early to establish the cause of the sudden proliferation of the fraudulent Facebook accounts because of an internal glitch or by external factors.

The activists arrested at the peaceful protest held at the University of the Philippines Cebu campus were the first to mention that their accounts were “duplicated”. Netizens voiced out their concerns over these fake profiles using the hashtag #HandsOffOurStudents. Other reports pointed out the targets of the spoofing attacks were outspoken of the Anti-Terror Bill of 2020, but even pro-administration netizens claimed they were victims, too.

Jonathan Ong, who co-authored several studies on local troll armies, believes fake Facebook accounts’ creation could be a ploy to gain access to people’s data and information. Ong mentioned in his interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) that “the creation of dummy accounts was widely used in the 2016 National Elections, but Facebook has since made it harder to create these accounts, causing disinformation campaigners to abandon the tactic.” It puzzles him why this happened. “It might be around control of people’s data, that’s what’s more concerning for me,” he told ANC. The organizations or people behind the sudden surge of fake Facebook profiles could be showing off that they have access to people’s data and information.

Lawyer JJ Disini, an expert on IT law, shared the dangers of a fake Facebook profile. When a target is identified, a fake Facebook profile is created with the same name as the former.  At the right time, the fake profile page would be made to appear identical. Disini warns that the user’s photo and banner of the real account could be copied and pasted.  A target could be locked out of his legitimate Facebook page by filing bogus complaints against the target with Facebook. While the target is locked out of his page, a post is created on the fake page where target commits a crime, for example, a threat on the life of the country’s president. The next likely scenario would involve taking a screenshot of the fake account with the incriminating post, then followed by deleting the fake page. Charging the target with a crime based on the screen shot could follow next. I don’t know if we could use the screenshot as evidence. When I filed a complaint against Facebook on the Cambridge Analytica data breach, the National Privacy Commission asked for the link to my Facebook post exposing the breach.

What could you do to protect your identity on Facebook? Ensure your Facebook account is secure. Enable the Two-Factor Authentication. If you are using a pseudonym or nickname, enter your birth name as optional information (under Settings, Personal Information, Name, Other Names) in your Facebook account. You could add your nickname and birth name. Under the Settings, Personal Information, you could submit proof of identity under “Identify Confirmation” as another layer of security. If you run ads about social issues, elections or politics, Facebook might ask you to provide proof of your identity. I complied with the “Identify Confirmation” because I handle many Facebook pages. All this precaution might not be a guarantee that your page won’t get disabled from a malicious takedown.

I also suggest documentation of your Facebook clones. Aside from screen shots, get the links and keep them on file. The open-source web app, could search duplicate fake accounts on Facebook. Not all are fake, though. The results on Facebook Search revealed I had three clones. Using this web app showed five more.

Publish your social networks in your blog or LinkedIN so people would know where to search for you instead of using Facebook Search. Continue to write content that shows your “personal branding,” or how you want to establish and promote what you stand for.

While we continue to demand answers from Facebook and investigators, let’s secure and protect our personal data and privacy.

First published Sunday Business & IT, June 14, 2020.

Google shares wellbeing tips

Use your voice 

It is hard to put the phone down once you have held onto it. To minimize getting distracted by your device, you can activate voice command with Google Assistant so you can easily ask for verbal help to complete your tasks. For instance, to avoid getting “trapped” by using your phone when you only need to check the time today, you can simply say, “Hey Google, what time is it?” You can also use Tagalog, “Hey Google, anong oras na?”

With custom or ready-made Routines, you can add voice cues to trigger several actions with one command. For example, you can set, “Hey Google, good morning”, and have the Google Assistant tell you the weather, your upcoming events, open your alarm, and much more.

Google Assistant is built-in to some Android devices and as an app, it can be downloaded on Play Store and App Store.

Find active alternatives

Working remotely means getting many video calls and to avoid fatigue, you should schedule breaks in-between virtual meetings to rest your mind.  The World Health Organization recommends getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Get up from your workstation and add a physical activity such as a quick run, bike ride, or take a walk while answering a call. To monitor if you are doing enough movement, you can use the Google Fit app to keep track and earn heart points. No matter how big or small your movement is, it has tremendous health benefits which improves mental health and helps you sleep better. The Google Fit app can work without any wearable device.

Discuss and plan tech use with kids

If you have kids, it is important to monitor their online activities and daily screen time. You can find numerous kid-friendly content online and you can use it to plan out their activities for listening, watching, and playing on their devices. Use this family guide to initiate conversations with your children to find out about content they like, talk about smart online habits, and other digital topics.

Intentionally detach from and reattach to work

Knowing how to balance time for work and leisure helps maintain one’s satisfaction with their overall wellbeing. Before jumping to your tasks, take a few minutes to review your to-do list and go through goals for the day so you will not have a hard time focusing. It is also helpful to create a dedicated workspace at home where you can concentrate on your tasks during office hours. During break time, turn off notifications and place your laptop out of sight so you will not be distracted to check work emails or join a last-minute video meeting.

Create a consistent bedtime routine

Whether on weekdays or weekends, train your body to go to bed and wake up on a schedule to establish a strong circadian rhythm and improve the quality of your sleep. You can use a sleep tracker to create a regular bedtime routine and monitor how many hours you need and track when you naturally wake up. Android’s Bedtime mode can help set a bedtime schedule which automatically turns on the Do Not Disturb feature and fades the screen to grayscale at your chosen time.

It is also recommended to put away phones to fall asleep easier and sleep better. Being exposed to blue light can have a negative effect on one’s natural sleep cycles by delaying release of melatonin and increasing alertness. Instead of using your device in the bed, try reading a book or listening to an audio program to lull yourself to sleep. Start with having 30-minutes of screen-free time, and work your way up to two hours or more until you are comfortable without using your phone before bedtime.

For more digital wellbeing resources, visit