When Facebook first took off, how many ‘friends’ you had was quite a big thing. Facebook made it very public, and some people may have found it a bit disheartening to see people with four-figure friend lists while theirs was grinding to a halt around the 75 mark.
Today, Facebook seems a lot less competitive, with most people using it to communicate and stay in touch with their existing friends rather than make new ones, but a new friend request is always cause for excitement. Who could it be? Somebody from work? An old friend from school? An ex-partner?
Often, you’ll probably find it’s somebody you’ve never heard of, but is that a problem? Facebook, after all, is all about building friendships, isn’t it?
Before you accept a friend request from anybody, it is important to do a little bit of research. It’s advisable not to accept any requests from strangers. If you don’t know who they are, you have to wonder about why they would want to be your ‘friend’. Is it because they want to find something out about you?
By going through the people you interact with and your list of friends, it probably wouldn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to work out which of them were related to you. Consider how many people use their mother’s maiden name as their password or security question for sensitive online accounts. Now have a think about how many Facebook friends you have with that surname, such as cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents from your mother’s side of the family. With a bit of research, somebody with questionable motives could probably have a good stab at guessing your mother’s maiden name.
Maiden names aren’t the only piece of sensitive information that could be held in your Facebook account, though. This week, a few news sources have picked up on the potential dangers of the concert list posts currently popular on Facebook, where people list 10 bands or artists and ask their friends to guess which one they haven’t seen live. It seems a harmless bit of fun, but ‘first concert’ is another common security question asked by banks and suchlike. If your list includes Nirvana (who broke up following singer Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994) and nine other bands from the last 10 or 20 years, you may have just answered this question for someone of dubious intentions.
As well as complete strangers, have you ever had a Facebook request from somebody you know and thought “I’m sure I was already friends with them?” You might not be imagining it. There are people who create fake and clone accounts in an attempt to trick that person’s friends into following them, then scoop up details about these newly acquired friends. It’s like a more subtle and sneaky version of making a friend request to a stranger. Before you accept it, make sure you’re not actually already friends with that person. If you find that you are, this second account is sure to be an impersonator.
Fake Facebook accounts have caused misery for countless social media users, but there is a way you can stop these little worms in their tracks and find out who is behind them. Our How to Trace a Fake Facebook Account eBook will guide you through the process, and is priced at £29. Using the discount code EWTRACE at the checkout, however, you can get it for the bargain price of £9.99.