Recently I received an invitation to connect to someone on Facebook. In and of itself, this is not an unusual occurance. Since I co-host several podcasts, and am active on Social Media, there are often people asking to be ‘friends’ who I don’t know personally, but this situation had my spidey senses tingling.
When it comes to social media safety, it helps to be cautious and look for the red flags.
There are some red flags that I noticed:
- The person’s name was a “gag name”. Now this can happen, and may not be a total red flag, but if you receive a request from Seymore Bunns, or Anita Break you should most likely delve further into whether you truly want to accept this person among your connections. In this case, the person’s name was a page turner of sorts.
- The profile picture and background picture are not of the person. Again, this may not be a true indicator that the person does not exist or is not real, however, if someone is trying to be overly clever and they faked the profile, then it’s another way to detect a false profile.
- The profile is relatively new. If someone has a profile that was recently created and they have a ton of ‘friends’ then be cautious if you do not recognize the name.
All three of these indicators were in place for this particular friend request, but… there was more…..
- All posts are memes and generic. If there is no personal content, that’s very odd. Every now and then, most people will post a picture of something that they are doing, or something they are eating or even a picture of their dog. If the only posts are third party shares, that’s another suspicious characteristic.
- The friends that you are also connected to are primarily from similar circles. If you notice that the unknown person who wants to friend you is connected to several people from that same circle, you should be suspicious. Ask your friends whether htey really know the person,or whether they friended them because others were connected. If you have friends who are numbers people and really don’t care who they accept, then it’s important to discount their response to your inquiry.
- Where it starts getting creepy is when the friend requester has many of your connections, but they are connected in ways that does not make sense. For example, with this request, not only were they connected to a ton of people that I network with locally, they also were somehow connected to people that I went to High School with, and who do not live in the area. The person also had connected to a guy I dated who now lives in another state. The liklihood of someone knowing this same circle of people from very different points of my sphere is more like flashing beacons than red flags. Just too much of a coincidence.
How do you handle the situation? I reached out to a few of my friends who were connected and asked whether they knew this perons or had met the person in real life. No one actually remembers meeting her. I think it’s safe to say that in this instance, it’s a nefarious purpose and therefore, I will not friend the person.
You may ask what difference this makes, and I will share with you a situation in my town where someone who had been allowed to connect started stalking and victimising females. None of the young ladies who were victims actually knew the stalker, but had accepted the person because he was a friend of their friends.
Be wary. Be careful. And do not post where you are going to be or what you are not going to be home. Don’t indiscriminantly friend people without knowing who they are or investigating why they wish to friend you. Sure, it may turn out to be fine, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.