A frightening Facebook warning is sweeping the social media network again, prompting users to take immediate action to keep themselves and their friends from being hacked. But there’s one big thing to know about it.
It’s fake. But there’s still some cause for concern. The message, which pops up for many Facebook users, has a number of variations and has been around for at least eight years, according to Snopes. For some reason, it’s being spread around again.
The most common version reads: “Please tell all the contacts in your messenger list not to accept Jayden K. Smith friendship request. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it.”
Other variations warn Facebook users about “Anwar Jitou,” “Maggie from Sweden,” “Tanner Dwyer,” and more. Worried Facebook users have been quick to pass the message on, just to be safe.
Dr. Daniel Angus, a University of Queensland expert who has the interesting title of computational social scientist, said it’s simply a hoax, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Jayden K. Smith, Anwar Jitou, and the others mentioned in the warning are not trying to hack your account. Plus, it takes more than accepting a friend request to get your account hacked.
But, in general, there is still a danger in accepting friend requests from people you don’t know.
"Becoming friends with scammers might allow them to spam your timeline, tag you in posts and send you malicious messages," Dr. Angus warned.
Sometimes scammers also mimic the names and profile photos of your Facebook friends, prompting you to add them as friends even though you already did that in the past. If you’re getting a friend request for someone you think you’re already friends with, search for their name in Facebook and verify if they are already your Facebook friend.
But what if you did forward the fake warning on to your Facebook friends? Will something bad happen?
No, said Dr. Angus, but "You should be mindful about what you share, as it can lead to loss of face if you share a hoax and it turns out to be wrong. Think of friends that have shared The Onion and Betoota Advocate articles as if they were literal truth, and then found out they were the victim of a hoax or satirical piece.”
"These kinds of hoaxes can make you look foolish, so be careful about validating information before you share it,” he added.