Help! A Doppelganger is haunting me on Facebook

Pablo Picasso

Facebook wants me to become friends with Julie Lomoe – they think I may know her. Evidently there are now two of me on Facebook, and my cyber self has come down with a case of acute Dissociative Identity Disorder. (That’s the official name for what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder.) Is it because I neglected them for three weeks?

It started innocuously enough with an e-mail message from Facebook saying “Your 2 friends are waiting” and naming two people for me to confirm as friends. In hindsight, maybe I should have been suspicious – I thought they were friends already. But I clicked on the link, got a “Welcome Back” message, and moments later I was logged in on my account, or what I believed to be my account.

My photo was gone, though, replaced by that innocuous blue and white avatar silhouette. Even worse, I now had only three friends instead of two hundred – the two I’d just confirmed plus my husband. The site gave my Albany location and my married status, but the rest of the information was stripped.

Panicked, I ran downstairs. “Facebook has deleted me!” I told my husband. “Practically all my information has disappeared! Can they do that just because you’ve been AWOL?”

Calmly, he brought up his own Facebook account and typed my name into the search box. Thank God, there was my own account, safe and sound, complete with photo, but below it was a new account with that pesky avatar and pitiful three friends. To the best of my knowledge, there’s only one Julie Lomoe  – the last name is Norwegian, and the few Lomoes in the world are related.

I’d inadvertently created a Doppelganger with all my identifying features zapped away. Now, how to delete it? Checking the FB Help section, I learned how to deactivate or delete an account, but I was too frightened to try, because I wasn’t  sure which account I’d be disabling – maybe the imposter, but maybe the real me with all the background information I’d painstakingly entered over a year ago. I couldn’t bear to risk it. So that shadowy Julie Lomoe still floats ghostlike in cyberspace, stripped of all my hard-won life experience, but I’m hoping people will find their way to the true me. 

Facebook has been trying to sabotage my married life as well. Another e-mail, allegedly from Facebook, contained a request from my husband asking that I verify that I’m in fact married to him and requesting permission to use my name on his account. I was surprised, because we’ve always kept our online identities separate and distinct for professional reasons. But I naively clicked OK, only to learn from him later that he’d never sent such a request and remained steadfastly opposed to such a revelation.

So the cyberspace gremlins are up to some nasty mischief on Facebook, or what poses as Facebook. I’m sure there are super-sophisticated explanations for what’s going on and why, but they’re probably far over my head. In the meantime, I’ve got a low-tech strategy: I won’t click on any links in e-mails that purport to be from Facebook. Instead I’ll log in the old-fashioned way, and hope that faceless Doppelganger fades away into the great beyond.

Have you had any similar problems with FB? Any ideas what caused them or any solutions? I’d love to hear from you.

8 thoughts on “Help! A Doppelganger is haunting me on Facebook

  1. Julie, I just went to Facebook and in the search box I typed Julie Lomoe. Two top entries came up: Julie Lomoe with your picture of yourself and a page caled Many Happy Mood Swings with Julie Lomoe and a picture of the book cover of Mood Swings. Then I clicked on the see more listings for Julie Lomoe and your new ghost page came up with no photo. Clicking on it took me to your new page. I have no explanation to offer you. This falls under the category WEIRD! I think you could easily delete the second Julie Lomoe page, just be sure you are in that one when you do your deleting. Good luck.

    • Thanks so much for the follow-up, Betsy. Because of the technical glitches and my own technophobia, I’m afraid I’ll end up deleting both. See the explanation below – it’s really daunting!

  2. I tried making a comment on this before and it got swollowed in the ethernet. Please forgive your getting this twice if it went into a permissions folder instead.

    One way Facebook makes money is by selling personal information to various companies. Most of the information is mined when you or a friend uses an app like those tests of “Which Greatest Film Star Are You?” Or those IQ Tests or virtual worlds. The trouble is, these apps can be hacked. And the personal info you put in your Profile can be stolen, or your account hijacked and/or your friends can suddenly start getting spam in your name.

    They’ve gotten in some trouble for doing this, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped FB’s popularity. So, they keep on doing it. In order to build up a still larger following, they will often send out suggestions that people join FB, supposedly at the request of friends. Sometimes these requests are real, sometimes not. I received a “request” from a friend for my birthday once, when I knew she already had it. She said she hadn’t sent the request. I also received a suggestion to join from myself once, complete with avatar.

    The bottom line is, FB is good for being in close touch with good friends and family. And for networking. But you’re better off if you stay away from the apps and ignore any email suggestions that come your way. I think those emails are sent by random computer decisions, so they don’t always make sense. I don’t know how to fix it, but your doppelganger was probably caused by a computer confusion. I don’t blame you for being concerned about fixing it.

    I suggest that you take important personal info out of your profile, including things like birthdays. Then I suggest you delete whatever apps are connected with your account.

    Go to your FB page. Then click the “Account” drop down menu on the far right. Choose “Application Settings.” Then under the “Show” drop down menu, pick “Authorized.

    There are several applications there that you can’t delete because they’re necessary to the functioning of FB. “Gifts” is one of those at the moment, but it’s going away next month. Delete as many apps as you can, keeping only those you know you really need. In my case, the only non-essential app I’ve kept is Networked Blogs, so people can follow my blog through FB if they like.

    Then, go through “Edit Settings” and change “Profile” and “Additional Permissions” the way you want them. If you’re using FB mostly for friends and family, under “Privacy” you can tell it just to make your Photos available to “Friends.” If you’re using FB to network, though, you may want to make some of these Settings read “Everyone” so that everyone can find you and see photos perhaps of your next book’s cover. If you do use these more open settings, you may be more likely to get spam and strange emails. But the good may out weigh the bad. It’s your choice.

    After you’ve made your changes, change your password just to be sure.

    Since I’ve made these changes, I haven’t had any strange emails from FB. But who knows if that will change. Truth to tell, I don’t much like FB. But I know a lot of people do.

    I hope this helps.

  3. This is enormously informative – thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t know if I have the courage to follow up on all your suggestions, but I’ll certainly consider them!

  4. I had the reverse problem: I had created a separate account for my job and they MADE me delete it (I wrote to ask why I had to keep verifying one account, and they discovered that I had two).

    I’d say go deactivate the second account to avoid confusing your friends and associates. If it turns out to be the wrong account, you can reactivate it by signing back in.

  5. Sarah – you’re right, I should probably do this, but I’m too technophobic to try.

    Monti – glad you like the art I choose – it’s an interesting challenge coming up with the right images.

    Nancy – I’m with you; I try not to get too outrageous on FB.

    Thanks to all of you for stopping by – it’s good to have some new people commenting.

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