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  • Writer's pictureAndi Dela Torre Griffiths

The Risks of Keeping Strangers on your Facebook Account

Do you have thousands of friends on Facebook? Most of which you do not personally know?

If you answered yes to this question, you might want to consider reassessing your list of friends. In today’s digital world, it’s not safe to keep random people on your Facebook account. Many risks come with it, and here are some:

Having your Identity Stolen

Unless you customize the privacy settings of your profile, your "friends" can see your details and the things you post. If you’re connected only to your close family and friends, there should be no problem, but if you barely know most of your connections, there is always that possibility of having your identity stolen. Identity thieves can easily take your photos and steal your personal information to create a new account using a different name or pose as yourself to conduct malicious online activities. Even an average person who has ill intentions can do this.

The Risks of Accepting Friend Requests from Strangers | The Risks of Keeping Strangers on Facebook | Online safety, cyber security

Reminder: Avoid posting photos that give away your info. Examples include images of your professional or driver’s licenses, car plates, documents, or credit cards.

Receiving Malicious Links

Phishing scams have become commonplace not just on emails, but also on Messenger, and these come in many forms. Some look like legitimate promos, some appear as urgent messages, and some tap the curiosity (like the “Look what I found” or “Is this you?” video scams). Regardless of what kind you encounter, accidentally clicking on malicious links might install ransomware, virus, or spyware on your device, so lessening the chances of it happening is the best way to go about it. One way to do this is by re-evaluating your friends’ list, because hackers can reach you through them.

Putting your Family and Friends at Risk

Remember that if you’re friends with strangers on your profile, you’re also giving them access to your list of friends, which they can easily add if you are a mutual friend. If that stranger happens to be a crook and then sends a friend request to someone in your network, the latter might accept that request under the impression that you are a real mutual friend, or an acquaintance of that crook. The same goes for family members. Many people are unsuspecting, if not gullible, so always be careful. Once the bad ones are in, it will be easy to pull the tricks up their sleeves.

Unintentionally Leaking Information

Depending on how often you post, how much detail you share online, and who you connect with on Facebook, you might be at risk of unintentionally leaking information that can potentially compromise your and your loved ones’ safety. Oversharing is a good example. When you constantly reveal an exceeding amount of personal information to a general audience (like real-time location updates) or display wealth by showing your expensive watch or pile of cash (yes, some people do this), you can attract the attention of traditional thieves and cybercriminals alike. Another example can be as simple as going out with a friend you didn't know who called in sick during an important day at work. If a common friend co-worker sees your photos, that might get your friend in trouble. Things like that. You know what I mean.

Also, common security questions include “What’s your maiden name?”, “Where did you go to school in elementary?”, “What high school did you attend?”, or “What’s the name of your first pet?”; all of which you can unknowingly give away with a simple post.

The Risks of Accepting Friend Requests from Strangers | The Risks of Keeping Strangers on Facebook | Online safety, cyber security

Being a Target for Robbery

In relation to the previous item, keeping strangers on your friends list can make you a target for robbery. There have been many instances where robbers used Facebook posts to determine when and where to strike. You may think the random people on your profile are plain harmless likers, but the thing is, if you don’t know them personally, you can never be too sure. If one happens to be a criminal (which is not an impossibility), all it takes are your status updates about your next vacation or a post about your brand new expensive things to entice a robber. This is not being overacting (OA) or paranoid, just being cautious.

While you always have the option to hide your friends’ list, there is no harm in doing a cleanup.

If you’re using Facebook to promote your business or your brand, you’re better off setting up a page. That will allow you to share content both to your private contacts (through your profile) and your target public audience (through the page) without mixing it up.

What to Do Now

Now that we’ve discussed the risks of keeping strangers on your account, it’s time to check your list of friends to identify which ones you don’t know in real life, then decide if you're keeping them or taking them out.


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