If you are active on Facebook, you’ve likely seen rather breathless posts warning you not to accept particular people as friends because they are dastardly hackers.
These supposed warning posts claim that just the act of accepting the named person’s friend request will allow the “hacker” to take control of your Facebook account. They also claim that if one of your friends accepts the hacker’s request, you will also be hacked.
Here’s a Typical Example
Please tell all the contacts in your Messenger list, not to accept Jayden K. Smith friendship request. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks. Forwarded as received
The Supposed Hacker Warnings are All Hoaxes
Dozens of almost identical versions of these warning messages have circulated on Facebook in recent years. Some, like the Jayden K. Smith version shown above have ‘gone viral” and inundated Facebook feeds around the world.
Such messages are often shared hundreds of thousands of times by well intentioned Facebook users who believe that they are passing on legitimate security warnings.
But, in fact, ALL of these messages are hoaxes. None describe genuine security threats. Sharing them clutters Facebook feeds with even more pointless and misleading nonsense.
From time to time, some online prankster will create a new variant of the hoax warning that substitutes a new name for the alleged hacker and launch the hoax anew.
The Hacker Scenario Described is Not Valid
Online crooks use a number of tactics to trick people into compromising their accounts.
They may trick you into installing malware that allows them to take control of your computer.
Or they may use phishing scam messages to trick you into sending them your account login credentials and other personal information.
Once the criminals have your login details, they can then hijack your account and use it for their own purposes.
However, even the most clever hacker will not be able to take control of your Facebook account or computer just by being added to your Facebook friends list. For a hacking attempt to work, some sort of file transfer or exchange of information must take place or the victim must take some sort of action such as installing malware.
These Hacker Hoaxes Help Nobody and Can Damage Reputations
Sharing these false warnings does nothing whatsoever to help people stay safe online or protect their accounts. All they do is spread confusion and misinformation.
Moreover, because the hoaxes often use names shared by a many people around the world, they can unfairly damage the reputations of people who have done nothing wrong.
If one of these hoaxes comes your way, do not share it with others. And, let the person who posted it know that the message is a hoax.
That Said, DO Be Careful With Friend Requests
While these warnings are just pointless hoaxes, it IS certainly wise to use caution and common sense when accepting friend requests. It is not a good idea to accept friend requests from strangers.
Some may be scammers who will subsequently try to trick you into sending them money or personal information or installing malware.
Others may be stalkers or undesirables with an axe to grind.
It is also wise to keep in mind that Facebook cloning scammers may send you fake friend requests that appear to come from people that you are already friends with.