I’ve noticed three distinct types of fake Facebook friend requests that evolved over time. The current word being used to describe these is “bot”. We really don’t have any way of knowing if there are real people behind these requests or if they are completely machine-generated. For our online security purposes, it does not matter whether these requests originated with humans or machines. What is most disturbing is that while their modus operandi remains the same over time (because Facebook’s friend acceptance platform remains mostly unchanged) the intent appears to have grown more sinister.
Type 1 – the Sex Bot
It’s been common for years in the past on Facebook for young women (that’s what the profiles say, whether real or fake we don’t know) to attempt to friend men by sending requests. I receive them almost every week and simply delete them. Yet I know that other guys gladly accept the requests.* These are easy to spot by their skimpily clad and busty profile pictures. (It’s been a few years since the women I know in real life looked like the women in these profile photos and back then if women ha these types of photos they would have been Polaroids not shown in public anyway). I presume they are attempting some modern online version of the world’s oldest profession.
Type 2 – the Foreigner Bot
Then over the past year I’ve noticed a few foreigners whose native language looks life Sanskrit or something similar. These are easy to spot and delete by their non-English language in the Facebook profile. I presume they either have some political or business marketing intent.
Type 3 – the Guy like Me
Then only recently I noticed a new third type of fake friend request. The profile photo is a person who looks like me (male, clean-cut. white, middle-aged). I suspect (but have no way of knowing for sure) that the intent is more sinister than the previous two. I turned to Google for help understanding the current rend but find no useful content. In July Wired Magazine published an online article “Russia Could Easily Spread Fake News Without Team Trump’s Help”. I suspect that’s part of the problem. Without more information it makes sense to just stay vigilant and spread the word; thus this blog post.
*I suspect. but have no way of knowing, that there is a high correlation between men who accept these fake friend requests and those who are more highly influenced by fake news postings.