Over the past couple days a Facebook message warning people not to accept Friend requests from someone by the name of Jayden K. Smith have circulated like wildfire. The messages state:

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. Thanks.

Of course, this claim is not true - and, as Snopes clearly indicates, this Facebook message is a hoax. Nobody can hack your Facebook account as a result of your accepting a Friend request from him or her, and you cannot be hacked simply by one of your friends accepting a similar request. These elements of the Jayden Smith message are nonsense intended to encourage people to forward the message on and make it go viral -- but they are false.

However... (and this is a big However)...

The reality is that accepting Friend requests from unknown parties can be seriously problematic, and can expose you or your loved ones to hacking and other crimes.

As I discussed in How to Protect Yourself From LinkedIn-Based Scams, criminals want to connect with you on social media because doing so grants them access to all sorts of information about you, your family, and your work colleagues - information that evildoers can exploit to better impersonate you, a family member, or a professional colleague. Considering how many crimes - both online and offline - involve social engineering, providing criminals with access to personal and professional information can be seriously problematic.

One technique criminals use to gain access to people's "private" social media information is creating fake profiles--on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social platforms -- and requesting connections with people, many of whom are likely to accept. Social media sites grant far more access to information once people are bi-directionally connected than they offer the public - and it is precisely that fact that the crooks exploit.

So, while the Jayden Smith message may be a hoax, hackers utilizing accounts of non-existent people to gather information for nefarious purposes is a 100% real problem; and, as such, you should NOT accept a friend request from Jayden Smith (unless you know a real person by that name), because doing so could help nefarious parties to target you or someone else about whom you care.

In fact, while the origin of the Jayden Smith message is not yet clear, it would be a brilliant move by criminals to launch a viral hoax that leads various members of the media into downplaying the risk of accepting a friend request from an unknown person.

What should you do?

Don't accept friend requests from people whom you do not know, or from accounts that appear to be hacked. See my article on this subject for details on how to avoid these harmful accounts.

And, of course, don't forward the Jayden Smith message.

Published on: Jul 11, 2017