Circulating social media message warns users that accepting friend requests from Tanner Dwyer, Christopher Butterfield, Stefania Colac or Alejando Spiljner can allow hackers to access your computer and steal personal information.
The claims in the message are nonsense. Even the cleverest “hacker” cannot access your computer just because you accepted a friend request. A name cannot hack your computer. This is just the latest incarnation in a long running series of hoaxes that falsely claim that your computer can be hacked just by accepting a friend request or adding someone to your contact list.
DO NOT ACCEPT A FRIEND REQUEST FROM TANNER DWYER, CHRISTOPHER BUTTERFIELD, STEFANIA COLAC AND ALEJANDO SPILJNER. THESE ARE HACKERS SO PUT IT ON YOUR WALL. IF SOMEONE ADD’S THEM THEY TAKE YOUR CONTACTS, EMPTY YOUR COMPUTER AND ADDRESSES, SO COPY AND PASTE THIS ON YOUR WALL.
According to this urgent sounding, ALL CAPS, warning, social media users should not accept friend requests from people named Tanner Dwyer, Christopher Butterfield, Stefania Colac or Alejando Spiljner. The “warning” claims that these individuals are hackers and that just the simple act of accepting their friend requests can allow them to take control of your computer and steal personal information. The message is circulating rapidly via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
However, the warning is utter nonsense and should not be taken seriously. Even the most skilled and experienced hacker cannot hijack your computer in the way described. A name, even a bogus one used by a skilled hacker, cannot do anything to your computer. Before a hacker can take control of your computer, he must use some method to gain access to it. Internet criminals can and do use a range of tactics to trick users into relinquishing access to their computers. They might trick victims into installing trojan software that allows a computer to be controlled remotely. Or they might use a phishing attack to trick a victim into sending them personal information such as usernames and passwords, which would allow criminals to access their victim’s account. However, even the smartest criminal will not be able to hijack your computer just by being added to your friend list. For a hacking attempt to be successful, some sort of file transfer or exchange of information must take place.
Thus, you cannot be hacked just by accepting a social media friend request and any message that claims that such attacks are happening is sure to be a hoax. In fact, this bogus warning is just one more incarnation in a long and sorry line of similar “friend request hacker” hoaxes that have circulated for years on end. Christopher Butterfield, one of the individuals named in this variant, featured in his own version of the hoax as far back as 2009. The claim about his supposed hacking activities was no truer then than it is now. From time to time, some malicious prankster simply plugs in a new set of names to one of these hoaxes, alters a few details and launches it anew.
Such hoaxes are far from harmless. Many of the names used in these hacker hoaxes are shared by large numbers of people around the world. Thus, the hoaxes can unfairly damage the reputation of innocent people who just happen to have the same name as one of the supposed hackers. They also spread unnecessary alarm among users and further clutter social media pages that are already creaking under the weight of vast amounts of dross, spam, scams, and other utterly useless information.
If you receive one of these absurd hacker hoaxes, please do not repost it. And please help to stop the spread of such hoaxes by informing the poster that the message is a hoax.
Last updated: April 1, 2015
First published: January 5, 2012