Beware! Facebook Friend Requests

There has been so much written about Facebook and your privacy.  Many are terrified that strangers may be able to see the photo they took of what they had for dinner last night!  Par for the course:  it seems we alternatively love Facebook and revile it every other Tuesday.

Here’s what I have to tell you about Facebook and your privacy:  it’s not a problem if you will take the time to manage your page and your friends.  It’s very simple and here is a link to a post that will walk you through that process:  LINK.  There have been a few changes to the look and feel of Facebook since that post was written but the basics are still sound.  Truth is:  you can limit what anyone sees of your Facebook profile.

But today there is a new threat.  It seems that Facebook scammers are sending out bulk friend requests hoping to get access to your information and your list of friends.  How they may use this information is up for speculation, but think about it:  would you go on television and tell the world what you had for dinner last night, where you dined and what you spent?  How may times you’ve been married and who your best friend in high school was?  How cute your 2 year old is in her new shoes?  Of course you wouldn’t.  But that’s what you’re doing when you accept friend requests from people you do not know.

Here is a list of tasks for you to do now:

  1. Review your list of Facebook friends.  See anybody you don’t know professionally or personally?  Perhaps you might want to un-friend them.
  2. When you click on ‘Friends’ from your home page notice that there is also a link for ‘Followers.’ Today, people can follow you – which means to read everything you post – whether you accept a friend request or not.  Take a look at your followers:  do you know them?  Maybe you’d be wise to block some or all of them.  Funny: when I checked my followers, I saw people whose friend requests I had refused!
  3. From now on when you receive a friend request from someone you don’t know, first send them a message and ask: How do I know you?  You probably won’t get a response, and so then, refuse the request and block them.
  4. Periodically check your followers.  You are notified when you have a new follower, but you are notified about so many things it is easy to overlook.  I don’t think legitimate followers are a bad thing, especially if you are using Facebook as part of your online business strategy, but maybe you’re bugged by the whole concept.  If so, go into your account settings, click on ‘Followers,’ and turn this feature off entirely.

I don’t think Facebook is the Boogie Man many say it is.  I believe in its ability to keep people connected and in its value as a marketing vehicle.  But I do believe that Facebook users have an obligation (to themselves) to manage their memberships, to take control of who sees what,, and to monitor more than the Newsfeed.

And, oh by the way . . . have you looked at Google + lately?  It’s come a long way.  Still, most of my friends don’t have accounts, but at some point it may become a social networking alternative.  My Spanish school in Oaxaca is actively using Google + Hangouts to teach the language over longdistances using live video feeds.  Impressive!

Here is an infographic from Barracuda Labs I found on ZDnet.com with more on fake Facebook friend requests:

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