Facebook Redesigns Friend Request Email Notifications to Fight Spam

This week Facebook redesigned the email notifications users receive when they’re sent a friend request. These emails now show stats about the request sender, including their friend, photo, wall post, and Group count, helping users identify spammers since they usually have few friends and little content. The emails also now include a link to “See All Requests” for batch request management.

Previously, requests only showed the name, profile picture, and mutual friend count of a friend request sender. If users answered requests via email and didn’t visit the sender’s profile, it would be difficult to tell if the person was a real acquaintance or a spammer looking to publish scams to their news feed.

Facebook has made several other moves this year to reduce friend request spam. In September it began preventing users from sending suspicious friend requests to people they are far removed from on the social graph. In January, it introduced a “Mark you don’t know him/her” response option to friend requests. Facebook limited the amount of friend requests that could be sent by those receiving too many of these marks.

Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor said at our Inside Social Apps conference in January that Facebook had reduced spam by 95% in the last year, partly in thanks to these spam prevention features. However, Facebook has to be careful not produce false positives and accidentally block legitimate friend requests between two people that met in real life, even though they’re distant on the graph or one user has sent some unsolicited requests before.

These new email notifications bring a summary of what a user might manually check a profile for to determine if a friend request was spam. This should help reduce the number of spam friend requests that are accepted, and therefore keep the site cleaner and safer to use.