Why You Shouldn’t Talk to Strangers on Facebook

Facebook, for the most part, is a safe place to meet friends and talk to people. However, it’s good practice (and simply common sense) to stick to conversations with people you actually know.

Recently, I’ve been receiving messages from complete strangers asking seemingly-legitimate questions about my livelihood, such as programming or brewing, since both are listed on my (up until today) public profile. Of course, when you get random messages from people outside of the country, your mind detects that something is amiss.

Don’t ignore your instincts when it comes to the internet.

Before responding to any of these messages, I decided to trust my gut and do some investigating into possible scams that could be run through innocent message exchanges on Facebook. What I discovered is that if you respond to a message on Facebook, you grant the person receiving your message permission to view your profile as a friend would for one month.

Just for clarity, I’ll reiterate:  If you respond to a message on Facebook, the recipient can view your profile for ONE MONTH.

It doesn’t take a month for somebody to copy your photos, copy your information, and set up a fake account on Facebook under your name or otherwise steal your identity.

The other possibility is that you’ll be lured into a sorority house pillow fight. The risks are real!

Dramatization.

Maybe this comes across as paranoid, but play it safe and just ignore/block messages on Facebook from people you don’t know. Hopefully Facebook decides to change its policy on profile viewership by non-friends in the near future. In the meantime, you can change your visibility to be non-public (so that you cannot be searched and found), or you can simply not reply to suspicious emails.

  • http://twitter.com/0odin Jonathan Paul

    “In the meantime, you can change your visibility to be non-public (so that you cannot be searched and found), or you can simply not reply to suspicious emails.”

    I do both 😀

    *dons tin foil hat*

  • Idontthinkso

    “Just for clarity, I’ll reiterate:  If you respond to a message on Facebook, the recipient can view your profile for ONE MONTH.”

    The above statement is incorrect.  I tested this by creating a new FB profile and sending a message to my old FB profile.  I then used my old FB profile to reply to the message sent from my new FB profile.  Guess what?  My new FB profile still could NOT view my old FB profile’s information.  Just for clarity, I’ll reiterate:   if you reply to a message on Facebook, the recipient can NOT view your profile for any length of time. The only way a stranger can view your profile is if your security settings are set to public or if you add that stranger as a friend.

    • Brian Nelson

      In the last 8 months (this was published in Feb 2011) Facebook has made some serious changes to their privacy policies. Thanks for the updated info!

  • Hello

    Hi , I received message from stranger too . He claimed he found me accidentally , i responsed to him I’m not interested in business. I wonder , why stranger can message to me even my facebook setting does not allow anyone to look-up me thru name or email addresses? 
    2. I had responsed to him I’m not interested in any business , why he still message to me ??
    3. He did not send me friend request , so am I safe by just response to his message , & will he access to my profile eg get the photo etc etc ?