Facebook Fights Social Spam with “Mark You Don’t Know” Response to Friend Requests

With more than 350 million monthly active users around the world, Facebook has a lot of users who want to make new friends. And now the company is testing out a feature to make friending a little more meaningful. Once you mark “ignore” on a friend request, you’ll see a new option in addition to being able to report the person for abuse or spam: “Mark that you don’t know” them.

Facebook has never shown friend rejections; rather, the person who made the friend request just never gets a confirmation. Some people don’t seem to get the hint, though, and make multiple friend requests to people they never get friend confirmations from. The new appears to make it so that the recipient can block future requests from the person. Like the long-time option of blocking all application notifications from a friend, it’s another way to reduce the social spam generated by poor etiquette on social networks.

Facebook doesn’t say exactly what happens when somebody gets marked as not known. “Our security team is currently just testing this feature to help inform certain limits on friend requests and combat spam,” a spokesperson told us.

Like a spammy app, it sounds like Facebook has some sort of limit it is testing out on how many friend requests a user can send over a given time. Also, the site is becoming a larger target for automated spam and phishing attacks, and one tactic is for spammers and scammers to set up fake profiles and friend people — this points to another use for the “mark you don’t know.” If used by enough people, it could help alert Facebook to problem profiles early on before they can cause too much damage.

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