Anyone who uses Facebook would probably agree that it’s a useful platform for sharing moments of your life with family and friends. One of the positive aspects of Facebook is its capacity to connect people with similar interests and goals from all over the world. What do you do when you receive a friend request from someone who’s just an acquaintance or whom you don’t know at all? Some users have a strict rule about not accepting friend requests from people they’re not familiar with. Other users, who may use the platform for business networking, may decide to accept requests from anyone.
Over the past several months, I’ve received a lot of friend requests on Facebook from fake accounts. You’ll see more of these friend requests the closer we get to U.S. Presidential election; Facebook has also removed many fake accounts prior to elections in other countries. This is an unfortunate downside of using Facebook, but I refuse to allow other people’s nefarious intentions prevent me from using it for my business or enjoying it. When someone friend requests me, I always go to their page and check them out before accepting. Most of these accounts are fairly easy to determine as illegitimate. I’ll show you how I decide to delete a friend request from someone I don’t know.
What to Look For
When you get a friend request, always click on that account so you can look at their page. The first thing to look at is their timeline. What’s on it? How long is it? Does it only have a few entries and all of them are profile picture updates? That’s the first clue that this is probably a fake account. Most people have a mix of both private and public posts. You can scroll down their timeline and not reach the end. However, some users do have their account settings private and rarely share any public posts, so this in itself may not indicate a fake account.
“Introduction” and “About” Section
Another thing to look at is the “Introduction” section on the left side of the page. What do they reveal about themselves? Most people have some information here — where they’re from or maybe where they work or go to school. In this picture, it’s evident that this person says only that he lives in San Francisco.
This didn’t give me a whole lot of insight, so I also clicked on the “About” section to see if he completed any information in that section. This photo shows that he didn’t. Again, some people have their accounts locked down and if you’re not “friends” with them, you can’t see any of their information. However, many Facebook users do have some of this general information public.
You also notice that there is only one photo on this man’s profile, which makes it suspect. Most people have many photos on their timeline and while they may keep most of those viewable only to friends, they will also have several that are public.
Another clue is that this person has no friends — at least not viewable. This isn’t how most people’s accounts are set up; most have their friends list public. Sometimes you may get a friend request from someone whose profile indicates one or two mutual friends. This does not automatically mean it’s not a fake account. Maybe some of your friends accepted the request without looking at the profile and don’t realize it’s a fake account.
What do they like?
The last thing I researched on this person was his “likes,” which are all people or things that I’m not familiar with. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but considering that he claims to live in San Francisco, I found it odd that he didn’t “like” anything local or anywhere in the U.S.
Based on these factors, I decided not to accept this request.
You can report fake accounts to Facebook, and here’s one final tip: If you’re using your desktop or laptop, always delete the request from your own page, from the friend request icon on the blue menu bar at the top. When you do, an option pops up that lets you flag that account as spam and they won’t be able to friend request you again. This option isn’t available on the phone app.