BUSTED: Fake Facebook Friend Requests

By David Cohen Comment

Just about every Facebook user has been on the receiving end of friend requests from people they don’t know, and often people who don’t exist.

But one minor addition to my personal information on Facebook led to an onslaught of them earlier this month, with every single profile displaying the same characteristics.

Here’s my story, and I’m curious if any of our readers have had similar experiences.

An actual, real-live friend of mine was filling out his timeline profile, and when he was working on his life events, I was asked for permission to include the information that we had attended NYU together.

Weeks earlier, I had indicated on my own timeline that I was a journalism major in the class of 1990 at NYU, rather than simply selecting the school, but I saw no harm in having both of them appear in my work and education section, so I approved the request.

Almost immediately, and lasting for about one week, I was bombarded with friend requests from people I don’t know, with no connections (no friends of friends), and I seriously doubt any of them actually exists.

With very rare exceptions, the profiles of the Facebook users who sent me friend requests shared the following characteristics:

  • A total of zero friends, or occasionally one or two, none of which were common friends;
  • New York University listed under education;
  • Subscribed to updates from me, and very few other Facebook users;
  • Unusual or foreign names;
  • Some, um, interesting profile pictures (see below); and
  • Very little or no other information.

We’re most curious to learn what entity created these profile bots and what their marketing objectives will become once they gather information about real users. We can only conjecture, however.

Meanwhile, readers, do you know of this sort of thing occurring to others on Facebook? And if so, can you think of an action that may have triggered it, like the addition of NYU to my profile seems to have done?