Facebook Prevents Users From Sending Suspicious Friend Requests To Strangers

Facebook has begun implementing new security measures to prevent friend request spamming. Some users are  being shown a “This Request Can’t Be Sent” pop-up if their request is deemed suspicious.

To determine if a request is suspicious, Facebook takes into account how many mutual friends you and the person potentially receiving the request have. It also factors in whether any of your prior friend requests have been marked by recipients with the “Mark this friend request as one from someone you do not know at all” link that appears when a friend request is ignored. If you have few or no friends in common, have had previous requests marked, or a combination of the two, your request may not be sent.

The security pop-up’s body reads ”Do you know this user personally? To prevent misuse of Facebook, this request can’t be sent. To learn more, plese visit the Help Center. If you believe you’re seeing this message in error, you can report the problem.”

Spammers friending large quantities of strangers with no mutual friends will be thwarted by this measure. As with all security features, false positives can occur, preventing a user from sending legitimate friend requests. However, the real issue is that many are having the security measure activated against them because they play Facebook games.

Titles such as Sorority Life, Mafia Wars and FarmVille give advantages to users who have friends to take in-game actions on their behalf. However, since most people don’t have hundreds of friends playing a certain game, they must send friend requests to strangers who do play. If the sender doesn’t include a personal message stating they want to be “game friends” or the recipient doesn’t read it, and since the request actually is from “someone you don’t know at all” the request may be marked, lowering the sender’s undisclosed Facebook credibility rating.

This problem could be addressed by Facebook adding a disclaimer to the “Add as Friend” confirmation pop-up. Explaining to users Facebook’s policy on sending friend requests to strangers and the potential sanctions might stem the practice, or at least notify users of the risks of such behavior. For most users, the new security feature will further reduce the likelihood that they’ll ever receive a malicious or unwarranted friend request.