Do you have fake friends?

I just read a fascinating blog post about a guy who exposed a “poser” on Facebook. Seems that he befriended this person without really knowing much about her other than the fact that she seemed to be friends with many of his friends, so he accepted her as his own. But something didn’t sit right with him, so he did a little investigating. Great stuff!

Do you accept friend requests from people you don’t know? I have. But in my case I fear that my brain cells are growing too old to remember friends of friends. After reading the article I did a little purging–just two or three names–and I feel a little better.

Why should we be careful about who we accept as Facebook friends? Because there are some out there who are building fake personas with hundreds of friends like you and me who prematurely hit the “confirm” button based on our friends who did the same. And those fake people have loads of access to your personal information–the stuff you’d only ever share with your friends.

What do they do with this info? In some cases they “mine” your posts for keywords like “moving,”  “new job,” “relocation,” “real estate,” and the like. Then magically, a marketing mailer ends up in your email or your home mailbox.  In other darker instances, they look for those special times when you post from Maui or the Friday night game and they visit your empty home.

You’re going to check your friends list now, aren’t you?

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8 Responses to Do you have fake friends?

  1. Ike Pigott October 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Thanks for spreading the word, Amy.

    A little background… I was a TV reporter in this market for 8 years, and interviewed nearly 1,000 people a year. That’s a LOT of acquaintances one builds up over time.

    Sometimes I’d recognize a person right away, sometimes I could figure out who they were by the profile information, or the context of the Mutual Friends. And in some cases, you have to actually accept the friend request in order to see enough profile information to make the decision. (Kind of like having to open the package to see the EULA which tells you what you’ve bound yourself to by opening the package…)

    I strongly suggest the creation of an UnTrust or Pending list, just so you can check people out a little further before opening up your world to them. You might just find a long-lost friend.

    • Amy Spreeman October 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

      Ike, I really enjoyed your post and appreciate the Untrust/Pending list suggestion.

  2. Kenny Silva October 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Given my business, I tend to live a very public life. I live with the understanding that everything I put online is going to be visible to other people, whether I know them or not. That’s my choice. As far as strangers adding me on Facebook, I don’t mind at all. I’ve even got my Facebook badges and links on all of my webpages, with an open invitation to connect.

    There are two sides to the coin, but I view social media as a tool for connecting with people I know and people I don’t know. I love to make new friends, both virtual and non. My policy is that if there’s something absolutely private in my world, it doesn’t go online. That’s the only sure way to maintain your privacy.

    • Amy Spreeman October 18, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

      That’s what I’m trying to convey to my teens, Kenny. I don’t mind my Facebook being open to friends. But it’s a little creepy knowing some people are preying on innocents.

    • Ike Pigott October 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

      Bingo, Kenny.

      Just be mindful of the next level down the chain… that the people who love and trust and know you might put some additional weight on those lighter connections that you maintain. Not a big deal when there’s only one friend in common, but when there are 20, you are part of a collective endorsement of someone who can then hack an entire community.

      In my case, it was someone who had infiltrated a community of “movers and shakers” in Birmingham, all young professionals. It was exactly the demographic the realtor wanted, and we helped deliver it.

      Ironically, had that realtor been up front about it, there would likely be no issue. But it’s sleazy, and the behavior that collectively enables that to happen allows the potential for much worse.

      • Amy Spreeman October 18, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

        I hope that realtor got her comeuppance. Or did it turn out to be a he?

        • Ike Pigott October 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

          I’m 99% certain I know who he is.

          But not enough to risk being sued to have to prove it.


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