Circulating Facebook post warns users not to accept a friend request from a person that they are already friends with because the request is an indication that the friend has been hacked.
The advice not to accept friend requests from people you are already friends with is valid and worth heeding. Scammers regularly use a tactic known as Facebook cloning in which they copy publicly available information from a targeted person’s profile and use it to create a fake account in the person’s name. They can use the cloned account to send bogus friend requests and launch scam campaigns. However, this tactic cannot be accurately described as ‘hacking’. The original accounts have not been hijacked or compromised. Elements of the accounts have simply been copied and reused.
ALERT: If you get a friend request from someone you are already friends with including me DO NOT FRIEND THEM!! Two of my friends this morning, have been Hacked!!
According to an ‘alert’ message that is circulating via Facebook, users should not accept Facebook friend requests from someone that they are already friends with as this is an indication that the friend’s account has been hacked. The writer of the post adds that two of his or her friends have already been ‘hacked’ in the way described.
The advice in the message to not accept a friend request from someone you are already friends with is certainly valid and Facebook users would do well to take note of it. The message references a common scammer tactic known as ‘cloning’ in which the profile image and other elements of a targeted person’s Facebook account are copied and used to create a fake look-a-like profile in the person’s name. The scammers can then send out friend requests via the cloned account. Since the messages appear to come from a person that they already know, some friends of the cloning victim may accept such second friend requests without due forethought.
Once the scammers have accumulated a few friends for the cloned profile, they can begin sending out scam or spam messages. Again, recipients may be more apt to believe claims in the bogus messages because they appear to come from a friend.
Facebook users can help protect themselves from cloning attacks by ensuring that their privacy settings keep as much of their information as possible from the eyes of potential cloning scammers. The more information and images a scammer can take from a user’s profile, the more believable will be the resulting faked account.
And, as noted in the alert message, users should never blindly accept second friend requests from people that they believe are already on their friends list. There may be legitimate reasons why a second friend request may be sent. For example, the friend may have accidentally unfriended people or purposely unfriended and then later regretted the decision. Or perhaps the recipient may not have realized that the friend had previously left Facebook but has now returned with a new profile.
But, it is important to verify that any friend requests really are from your friend before you accept.
While the advice in the alert is genuine, it should be noted that the tactic described cannot be accurately referred to as ‘hacking’. The original account has not been compromised or hijacked. This is simply a matter of unscrupulous Facebook users taking publicly available profile information and reusing it for their own nefarious purposes.