A quick guide on common misconceptions about hackers and Facebook friend requests.
The Real and Fake Dangers of Adding Someone to Facebook
One of the most prolific fallacies on Facebook is the misconception that adding someone on Facebook is either dangerous or can give you a virus. This article attempts to explain just how dangerous (or not dangerous) adding someone on Facebook actually is.
Firstly, we look into the on-going hoax that adding a certain person on Facebook is dangerous and means you can be hacked or given a virus. Assertions such as this are typically spread through viral hoax alerts that people pass onto Facebook lie the one below –
***WARNING!!!! DO NOT ACCEPT FRIEND REQUESTS FROM ~~~ BOBBY ROBERTS ~~~ Profile picture is four colored pictures ~~ A hacker and fake name !!!! the name will DESTROY EVERYTHING!!! PLEASE... COPY THIS TEXT ON YOUR STATUS SO THAT YOUR FRIENDS ARE WARNED************* PASS THIS ALONG A.S.A.P..
Many of these hoaxes spread across Facebook and they are never true. They are actually a later variant of a much older hoax that used to spread through email in the later nineties targeting Yahoo and Hotmail messenger users when they became popular (Hotmail MSN Messenger is now Live messenger). Such email hoaxes would claim that adding contacts to a user’s messengers list would activate a hacker or a virus. The emails would implore users to forward the email to all their contacts. These Facebook hoaxes are essentially the same, and equally untrue. This means that the act of accepting a friend on Facebook does not mean that a Facebook user is any more susceptible to contracting a virus or falling victim to a hacker. Becoming friends with someone on Facebook does not provide anyone with any information that will allow them to infect your computer with a virus or “hack” your computer, unless you are careless with what information you share (read more on that below).
This means that any “warning” that claims accepting someone as a friend will give you a virus or allow you to be hacked is utterly untrue and should not be circulated.
This is not to say that a Facebook user should be careless or cavalier with whom they accept as a Facebook friend. Whilst the hoax warnings are just that – hoaxes – there are real dangers to accepting people you do not know on Facebook, albeit different dangers than hackers or viruses.
Facebook scammers and Facebook predators are real, and really do use the social networking site to find victims. For example sexual predators do use Facebook to find impressionable victims where the predator will try and arrange real life meetings. Scammers also add Facebook friends in order to find out personal information about them. Many Facebook users are careless with what information they make public, and a popular way of gaining unauthorised access to online accounts is by answering the “Secret Question” using information the scammer obtained from a Facebook account. Many accounts use a secret question for people who forgot their password.
Additionally, adding someone as a Facebook friend allows them to send you messages via FBMail, FBChat or through posting on your wall or newsfeed. Such messages can contain links that can link to external site or to Facebook pages and this can lead to a plethora of scams such as survey scams or malware downloads. Of course this does require the Facebook user actively click the links sent to them by their unknown Facebook friend.
In summary, Facebook users should not circulate these silly rumours about adding people on Facebook will get you hacked or give you a virus. They are illogical nonsense designed to waste peoples time and can do serious potential damage to the people who share the names outed on the messages. The assertions made in the messages are designed to panic Facebook users and circulating them is irresponsible. However Facebook users should exercise caution when adding people on Facebook. Scammers and other criminals do use Facebook so you should stick to only accepting friend requests from people that you do know.