With every new friend request you accept, do you talk to that person straight away? If not, then are you sure they are who they say they are? How do you know it’s not a fake account using a name of a friend you rarely speak to just to view your private information? Is this your ex, is this a stalker, or is this a criminal looking to steal your identity?
Do you put the Facebook account you just added in quarantine (E.g. Facebook’s restricted list) as soon as you accept the friend request to ensure that this person is who they say they are? Do you confirm your friend requests by phone or SMS? Do you ask questions only that person will know? Or do you just assume Joe Smith is the same Joe Smith that you went to High School with but never actually spoke to?
When was the last time you actually went through your friends list to see who has access to your private information? Do you know everyone single contact on that list? And I’ll repeat, are the names of these profiles actually the names of the people who use them?
I’m a person who likes to protect my personal information. I try to avoid posting my full name on the internet, my location, and I also try to not comment on people’s status updates that are set to “Public”. However, from past experiences, keeping private information private from the public (or specific people) is a hard thing to do.
I am surprised in how many people don’t really know who can access your Facebook profile and it is surprising how your private information is not so private. Below are 5 reasons how someone can gain access to your private Facebook information.
Reason 1: People don’t clean up their friend lists…. ever!
A few years ago, I created a fake Facebook account under one of the most common names (the names you find on Credit Card ads) and to this date, I would say 75% of the people I added years ago are still friends on this account. To make matters even worse, this profile doesn’t even have a profile picture. How would you like to have someone you don’t know viewing all your photos and stalking you?
Reason 2: People make accounts on behalf of other people who don’t want, or use Facebook
I found one of my old school friends who I haven’t spoken to for a while on Facebook, so I added him. He had quite a number of mutual friends, so I thought it was him. Little did I know, I fell for the trick that I am talking about now. It was only recently, I ended up talking to one of his closer friends who revealed that it was actually him on Facebook, and not the person I was thinking of. Now, I didn’t particular talk to this person on Facebook, but it proves a point. Imagine if this other person was someone I didn’t want in my life, and secretly, they were reading everything I did. That’s quite scary. Luckily, I knew and trusted the person that was using the account under someone else's name.
Reason 3: Make sure you are not talking to their partner
A lot of couples I know give access to their partners Facebook account, whether that’s sharing passwords or just not logging off a shared computer. When you are talking to someone who you know is in a relationship, keep in mind not to share information the partner shouldn’t see. Don’t start conversations like “So does your boyfriend know about John yet? When are you going to tell him?”. Those conversations a better kept in person. You don’t always know who’s sitting at the other end of the computer.
Reason 4: Hijacked Accounts
How many times have you read on Facebook that a friend likes sucking on something? In most cases (unless they’re a strange person), they’ve left their account logged in somewhere and someone decided to have some fun writing a funny status update. Just keep an eye out and don’t say anything sensitive or start a conversation sending them an essay without them having to say a word.
Reason 5: Connections
The final reason is people have connections outside of Facebook. Say for example, you are friends on Facebook with Fred but you don’t really talk to Fred, but you really hate Joe because he stalks you, and Joe and Fred are best friends. How do you know Fred isn’t passing all your status updates and pictures on to Joe? If you block a message to someone on Facebook, that message can still be sent to that person through another person.
So what can I do to ensure I am talking to who I think I am?
A few things you can do to ensure you are talking to a Facebook friend who says who they say they are:
- Always add new friend requests in Facebook’s restricted list as soon as you add them. Even one minute on your Facebook profile, they can view and save everything
- Ask questions that only that person will know. For example, bring up past events such as “remember the time at xxxxx’x place how we did xxxxx’s, what did we do afterwards again?
- Don’t trust the fact they have a lot of mutual friends. Ask your friends if they actually talk to that person
- Keep a look out for abnormal behaviour. If someone always says “Hello” every conversation to then say, “What’s up matey???” just be aware that it may be someone else. Also, check how quickly they type, their punctuation, use of capital letters, and sms talk. If it seems they are spelling “you” as “u” or “great” as “gr8”, you may not be talking to who you think you are
- Check whether or not you are talking to their partner, an account hijacker, or someone using a name of someone else.
You need to do this now
After reading this post, please go through your friend lists and delete anyone you think are suspicious.