Important Things to Keep in Mind Before Accepting a Stranger’s Friend Request
While certain social media sites like Twitter allow you to follow anyone you want–usually without having to request to follow–sites like Facebook and Instagram require you to submit a friend request to keep up-to-date with someone.
Many active Facebook users receive friend requests from people every day. Although most of these are likely friends you may actually know, some may be complete strangers. Some users accept every friend request they receive, regardless of who it is! If you’re one of those people, you may want to reconsider your vetting process (or lack thereof). Here are some reasons why.
It’s Easy to Pretend to Be Someone Else Online
Most people lie at least a little in their everyday lives, and that trend continues online. While there’s not much of a reason to believe that people lie substantially more online than offline, it’s definitely easier to lie online. People can create an entirely new identity for themselves with just a few clicks. This alone means it’s a good idea to be wary of anyone you don’t know. That friend request from someone who seems like a friendly stranger could actually be from an ex trying to collect information on you, or someone looking to scam you or your loved ones.
Instead of simply adding anyone who sends you a request, you should look at their profile first. Does it seem like an actual active profile? Does it only have a few friends? Does this person seem to post a lot, or are posts few and far between? Was the profile created very recently? By analyzing the answers to these questions, you can be more confident in accepting or denying friend requests.
Scams on the Internet Are Rampant
In 2017 alone, over $900 million was lost to scammers, and many of those scams happened over the internet. Even the most internet-savvy people can sometimes fall prey to scams, especially as scammers continue to improve on their tactics to appeal to the new crowds of people online. You may feel like you’re too smart to ever be scammed. Unfortunately, the people being taken advantage of are at least as smart, so you’re as at-risk as anyone.
A friend request from a stranger you’ve never interacted with could just be a scammer trying to get a foot in the door. This person might try to build a relationship with you before trying to get your money, or may just immediately message you with money requests. Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so just reject the request.
Conduct an Online People Search
Most people on social media sites have certain important aspects of their lives hidden from the public. On Facebook, for example, you may have your location only available to friends, even though your full name is visible to everyone. If someone keeps all their information private on Facebook, that should already be a bit of a red flag for you. What are they hiding, really?
But if you want to know more, you can still go to a people search site like PeopleFinders to find personally identifying information about them. Depending on how much info you want to know, you can be satisfied with knowing someone’s real full name. Or you can decide to perform a background check to find out if your friend requester has a criminal record, where they live, and other public records information. Based on that, you can decide if the person is worth accepting into your circle of social media friends.
Internet safety starts with very simple things, and one of those simple things should be staying away from revealing personal information to strangers. While getting more social friends may be appealing, it’s not worth the risk unknown people can pose. With just a little due diligence, you can still make friends online…and be a little safer in the process. Want more information about how to protect yourself and your online identity? Read the PeopleFinders blog to get the most up-to-date information on keeping your online information safe.
Photo Credit: Rawpixel.com – stock.adobe.comTags: Facebook, Online Identity, Online Safety, Safety Tips, Social Media, Twitter
Categorized in: Digital Identity