During July 2017, Facebook suddenly became inundated with a plethora of hoax warnings that all claimed a hacker by the name of Jayden K Smith was sending friend requests, and would “hack” the accounts of anyone that accepted.
To say the hoax went viral would be an understatement. Within 36 hours, our article debunking the warning was soon the most read article on our site to date (no easy feat) and fellow hoax-debunking websites were also stretched as millions of Facebook users sought for answers concerning the mysterious “hacker”. Eventually the warning had been reported on by most mainstream media outlets.
However this hoax hacker warning was not anything new. In fact it was the latest in a long string of extremely similar hacker warnings that all more or less follow the same template…
1. A hacker is on the loose.
2. Accepting the hacker as a friend or contact will result in your account or computer getting hacked.
3. Pass the message on to help others.
Such warnings pre-date Facebook. Remember MSN Messenger? Similar warnings would caution users against adding certain email addresses as contacts because they belonged to “hackers” that would hack your computer if you did. Similarly, when email was the primary way to keep in contact online, panicked messages would warn users to avoid adding a particular email address to your contact address book because… you guessed it… the email was a hacker who’d hack your email should you add them.
Back then the warnings were useless. Nothing has changed since. Why are such hacker warnings useless? It’s not only because they’re not true, but also because they make no sense.
To reiterate something we’ve said many times before, a crook cannot magically compromise a Facebook account or someone’s device just because they accepted them as a friend on Facebook. The authors of these hoaxes correctly assume that many technically-not-so-inclined readers won’t ask the question ”but how?” How does adding someone on Facebook give them this power to automatically “hack” into your computer, your files or your online accounts?
The answer is that it doesn’t. But let’s assume for a second that someone could do this. If a crook did have the ability to magically hack a computer or account just by becoming friends with its user, a pertinent question raised would be why continually do it with the same name?
Surely this would be counter-productive, since…
1. Facebook users will naturally start to share warnings about them and their name and…
2. Facebook themselves would soon catch on and disable the hackers account.
Would it not make sense for a crook to perform his various nefarious activities under a variety of different guises and names? After all, how long does it take to set up a new Facebook account? Minutes if not seconds. To keep under the radar from both Facebook and potential future victims, any crook would use a variety of different accounts with different names. Thus any warning mentioning a single name to identify a hacker would be either entirely pointless or immediately out-dated.
And that’s even if crooks had that ability to compromise accounts by being accepting as a Facebook friend. Which they don’t.
As such, any hacker warning like this is useless. Both because it’s not true and because it makes no sense.
Remember though, adding strangers on Facebook isn’t a good idea since it is indeed risky. No, you won’t get your account automatically hacked. But you are potentially handing a total stranger information about yourself, and that information can be used against you and you could find yourself the victim of identity fraud and you are exposing yourself to a number of Internet scams, so don’t do it. Social media is for friends that you know and trust.