In order to ensure your safety when browsing the Web and sharing information, it's critical that you verify you're always communicating with official accounts. A fraudulent account will not only be of little use in providing you with information or assistance you need, it could be an active threat to your Web security. Verifying social media accounts varies from network to network, but most large networks offer some sort of indication as to whether an account is authentic.

Twitter

Twitter has a proactive verification process it uses to determine which brands and high-profile individuals are actually using their accounts. Examine the Twitter profile page of the account you're attempting to verify; verified accounts have a small blue check-mark badge next to the username. Twitter's verification process relies on an in-house team and is not available upon request -- the only way to get Twitter verified is to wait for the team.

Facebook

Facebook also has a built-in verification process. Any Facebook profile with a small blue check-mark badge next to the profile name or page title has been verified as official by the Facebook team. While not all authentic profiles are verified, Facebook's verification does provide you with a safety net when it comes to checking authenticity for some high-profile accounts. Facebook verification, like Twitter verification, is not available on request.

Google Plus

If you find a business listing on Google Plus, that business has already been verified by Google's Plus team. It is not possible for a business to register for and set up a Google Plus page without either verifying its phone number or address directly with Google. Individual user accounts are verified only through their Google user identity, which means it's more difficult to verify that someone is who they say they are. Always cross-reference with Twitter and Facebook to be sure.

LinkedIn

Because of the professional nature of LinkedIn and its network, verification is slightly more straightforward. You can readily see a contact's previous employment, current job and contacts, and LinkedIn does not allow networking requests from or to people who aren't already somehow connected to you. LinkedIn monitors employment posts for veracity and requires that posting companies have a verified presence on the LinkedIn network.

Verifying Normal Accounts

Because official verification is only extended to high-profile users such as businesses and celebrities, verifying a normal user's account is more difficult. Check the connections of the account to see if you have friends or co-workers in common, ask the user for verification sent from their email address or phone number, or request an image that proves the user's identity. If you're not sure about a social media user's actual identity, do not share personal or business information until the account has been verified to your satisfaction.