How to be you

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Chit U. Juan - The Philippine Star

You often hear friends and admirers say “how to be you” to express their appreciation of what you have done, accomplished or achieved. But when a stranger thinks of this and thinks of using “you” as their identity, it becomes a serious matter.

Meta or Facebook has been inundated with reports from my friends that an impostor has stolen my photos, my posts and even my latest profile picture. But three days later, there has been no action from Facebook. One writer says they will not care as I am not a verified account. It means I am not important among their 7 billion users. I tried to get verified – where you submit your government-issued identification – but I got a reply that it was not enough to verify me. What???

Now I am getting the feeling all the reports go to AI receivers or Artificial Intelligence robots who send an automatic reply that the report is under review. And that they will get in touch with the account owner – that’s me. And I get in my inbox, not a few reports, but many from friends who had the time and cared to report, even if they do not know who actually will act on it.

Does Facebook care that its site is now being used for criminal moves? Should I just grin and bear it and tell my friends to just be careful about the other me asking them to invest in dubious investment deals? Do I get out or log out and let this criminal take over my identity?

A friend suggested that this dubious account now has 1,700 friends to make it appear it’s a legitimate account. I have 3,500, so maybe it’s a case or formula of taking half of her number of friends as target friends of the impostor account. You still follow? If you have 1,000 friends, your new “me” will have 500 as target. Or maybe they target those with almost 5,000 friends (the limit per account from what I know).

To help my friends stay away from this other account, I changed my profile picture a few days ago, to suggest the latest me. Well, what do you know, the impostor quickly grabbed my new profile photo and used it as her profile photo. Now we look the same! It is a study in how criminals study a profile. They watch your every move and copy to be as close as possible to who you are.

As my friend suggested, “you are now on their radar.”

What did I do to be on their radar? Was it because of posts I made public because these posts were meant to inspire others? As far as I remember I make posts public so people can share them, usually upon request of other friends. Tell me, Mr. Z, what algorithm do you use to choose who to make vulnerable? Number of friends? Inspiring posts? Doing good to others?

Not to scare those who still do not have Facebook accounts, Facebook is really great entertainment. And it should stay that way. It should not be used to get money from others, or to be a political weapon, when election season starts.

If Mr. Z or his minions do not help us when our identity is compromised, maybe the 7 billion can do something so they will further feel the pain of victims such as myself. Stop buying ads. Stop boosting posts. Stop giving your money to this machine. Stop making them rich to the detriment of others.

Other victims will just leave FB and let Facebook be. And this is why we continue to have identity theft and scams. We should expose these lapses, gaps and other evil ways of people who, instead of getting entertained, use the medium as a criminal tool.

Meantime, I shall carry on. I believe in karma and I believe in the good of people – even Mr. Z and his ilk. Imagine if we used all this energy to do good, to feed people, to save victims and to make the world a better place. Mr. Z, the power is really in your hands and your bots. Do something to stop any criminal-sounding pitch like you have stopped bad stuff before.

And to my friends in Facebook, please do not believe my face with another name. I will never change my name unlike those who hide under “inverted spellings” YOB for BOY for example. Or those who totally rename themselves, like a man calling himself Princess, for example. I will always be Chit Juan only in Facebook.

It is an exercise in humility and pride at the same time. You are humbled that some stranger is causing you to be bothered while you are proud that someone even noticed who you are and the posts you make. But I would rather stay simple and humble. And I never really thought anybody would bother to steal my photos and my posts. To inspire her 1,700 new friends? Well, get inspired but do not fork out money, my new friends.

And to the original friends I have made through the years, maybe one of you will have a direct line to Mr. Z and his team. Please do drop him a line and tell him to at least remove the photos from the impostor account or take down that account immediately. It serves nobody except to entertain my friends who know that I would never call myself Angelina.

Oh, Facebook, you entertain but you also can be used by many bad people. Beware – if you do not do anything to correct these malpractices of others.

Now I say, Mr. Z, how to be you?

As of press time, nice people in Meta Philippines’ office helped take down the impostor account and will soon verify my account, too.


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