With Facebook’s ever-growing popularity, it’s not surprising that fake accounts are after your online friendship. Here are some tips for detecting and avoiding friend spam.
Check Recent Activity
When you receive a friend request and you’re not sure if it’s real, check the person’s profile to see their recent activity. If they’ve added an inordinate amount of friends very recently, there’s a good chance they’re spam.
Do You Have Friends in Common?
One good thing Facebook does to help you out is let you know who else is friends with anybody else. If you don’t know who someone is but your friend approved the request, send them a message to find out before you add this person to your list. Perhaps your friends know them and can give you some background information, or maybe they just added him or her arbitrarily. Either way, it’s a quick means of finding out who might be at the other end of the request.
Be Wary of Suggested Friends
People You May Know is Facebook’s way of identifying some possibly worthwhile friends. While it’s been pretty accurate for me about half the time, the other half is filled with people that seem to have sprouted out of nowhere. Inevitably you’re going to have a friend who has a friend who’s really just spam. As a result, you’re going to get friend spam suggestions here and there. Be sure to check out people you don’t know before you add them.
Be Wary of Actual Friends
While a lot less common, spammers have actually taken data from real people and repurposed it in a fake account. When you receive a friend request from somebody you know, it takes about ten seconds to visit their page and see if anything looks a little off. If it does, send them a message first and make sure it’s really them. Chances are this isn’t going to be an issue you run into very often, if ever, but it’s always a good idea to check out friend requests before you approve them.
Validate Your Identity
A more extreme measure, mysafeFriend is a Facebook app that lets you validate your identity so friends know it’s you. Of course, they can’t truly know for sure, but it’s a more secure way of proving your identity. You just add the app to Facebook, click the big red “Validate Your Identity Now” button, and go through the first three levels. To validate further will cost some money, which seems to be their business model, but the first three levels are free and should be sufficient to prove that you are who you are. If your friends do this as well, you can be more confident that you’re dealing with real people. Of course, this is quite a bit of work on everyone’s part and is a pretty extreme measure for avoiding friend spam.