Circulating social media message warns you not to accept a friend request from Agent Sharon Anderson Terry, Arnecia Downing, Christopher Davies, or Jessica Davies because they are hackers who can take control of your computer. The message also warns you not to accept a video called the Dance of the Pope because it is a dangerous virus that can format your mobile phone.
As I describe in more detail below, this supposed hacker warning is derived from a long line of very similar hacker hoaxes that have circulated for many years. The names Christopher and Jessica Davies are also featured in an earlier version of the hoax that has been circulating since 2009.
At its core, this version is just as misleading and inaccurate as its predecessors. However, it does touch upon a security issue that Facebook users do need to be aware of. The name “Agent Sharon Anderson Terry” has been used on several bogus Facebook Pages published by advance fee scammers. “Agent Sharon” is a fictional character used to help convince people that they have won a large sum of money in a “Facebook Lottery” and thereby trick them into sending their money and personal information to criminals. In fact, scammers use many such fictional “Agents” to further their nefarious goals. So, it is true that you should not accept a friend request from Agent Sharon Anderson Terry. In fact, you should not accept Facebook friend requests from any such “agents” or, indeed, strangers in general.
But, that said, these fictional agents are not hackers and this silly warning message is certainly not a viable or sensible way of warning Facebook users about them.
So, what of the “friend request” hacker claims in the would-be warning? All of these hacker hoaxes falsely claim that simply accepting a friend request will allow the dastardly hacker to immediately gain access to your computer. But, the tactic described in these hoax warnings is not feasible. Criminals use a range of tactics to trick users into allowing access to their accounts. They might use a phishing attack to trick you into divulging your account username and password. Or, they may trick you into installing malware that can allow them to take control of your computer. However, even the smartest criminal will not be able to hack your computer just by being added to your contact list. For a hacking attempt to be successful, some sort of file transfer or exchange of information must take place.
Despite its rather nebulous brush with the truth, sharing this hoax message is likely to be counterproductive. To have any value, Internet security warnings need to contain accurate and verifiable information that helps people to protect themselves online. “Warnings” that contain false information do nothing other than cause confusion and may well hinder rather than help.
For good measure, this version of the hacker hoax tacks on a completely unrelated hoax warning about a non-existent mobile phone virus. The Dance of The Pope virus hoax has been circulating as a separate message since at least 2015. There is no virus or malware threat like the one described.
DO NOT ACCEPT A FRIEND REQUEST FROM AGENT SHARON ANDERSON TERRY, ARNECIA DOWNING, CHRISOPHER DAVIES, AND JESSICA DAVIES THEY ARE HACKERS! TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM, HE’LL BE ON YOUR LIST TOO. HE’LL FIGURE OUT UR COMPUTER’S ID AND ADDRESS , SO COPY & PASTE THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE EVEN IF U DON’T CARE. Please also Tell all contacts from your list not to accept a video called the “Dance of the Pope”. It is a virus that formats your mobile. Beware it is very dangerous. They announced it today on the radio. Fwd this msg to as many as you can!
Since you’ve read this far……can I ask you for a big favour?
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