Where do random friend requests on Facebook come from, and why?
June 29, 2007 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Why do I get so many friend requests from people I don't know on Facebook?

In the past month or two, I've been getting an increasing number of friend requests on Facebook from people I don't know.

They are always listed as 'no network,' and when I click on their profiles, they contain minimal information: a name, a sidebar with their friends and what schools they attend, and possibly a location or an e-mail address. No wall, no personal information, none of the other ornamentation. (This may be what Facebook calls a 'limited profile' but I don't know.)

I don't recognize their names or pictures, and we never have any mutual friends. Often their friends are people scattered about the country, with no pattern to indicate that they do anything but randomly select people to friend.

My question is, what purpose do random friendings like this serve? Are they trying to use Facebook and friending random people as a means to an end (advertising/spam, say)? Are they potential employers trying to check up on me?

Today I got three of these orphan requests, and while I blocked them all, I got curious as to where they come from and why.
posted by bijou to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it anything like this question?
posted by malaprohibita at 7:59 PM on June 29, 2007

Are you the creator of a popular group? Or maybe active in a popular group?
posted by daninnj at 8:02 PM on June 29, 2007

They might have mistaken you for someone (maybe you have the same name); they might be up to no good searching for personal information and email addresses; they might be employers, as you say; or they might just be loners. In any event, I'd say you're right to keep on denying their requests.
posted by Dasein at 8:07 PM on June 29, 2007

Are they trying to use Facebook and friending random people as a means to an end (advertising/spam, say)? Are they potential employers trying to check up on me?

More likely the former than the latter, I would say. Remember that random people can't look at your Facebook profile unless they're members of one of your networks. They might be adding you to get at your personal/contact information (provided, of course, that you've made it visible). On the other hand, they might be actual people looking to meet friends -- something that has traditionally been the domain of MySpace, but since Facebook opened its doors to the world at large the differences have shrunk.

For what it's worth, I get the same kind of friend request occasionally. I usually add the person, scan their profile to see if it's perhaps someone I met once and forgot, and then remove them afterwards if not. So far, no harm done.
posted by danb at 8:12 PM on June 29, 2007

Perhaps you two have emailed each other before (maybe even just once) and the address stayed in their address book, and you got added via their Find Friends feature. That's how a lot of my Facebook friends came about.
posted by divabat at 8:29 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have a fairly common first name and an uncommon (but thoroughly unremarkable) surname, and as far as I know I'm the only person on Facebook with that combination.

I'm neither the creator of nor a member of any particularly popular or attention-seeking groups.

I would chalk it up to people actually seeking friends, but I find it unusual that three people, all genuinely seeking friends, would find and add me within the span of a day.

(Also, malaprohibita, it's a different problem. The friend requests show up on my homepage, and I have no problem navigating to these people's profiles.)
posted by bijou at 8:30 PM on June 29, 2007

I've got two friend requests that I've been like "Huh?" -- they have relatively complete profiles but I have no idea where they're from. I'm the founder of one group (for my WoW server) and a member of a few others, but these folks don't mention WoW and I don't know them, so the random friend request seems odd. I dunno.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:31 PM on June 29, 2007

Why not just send them a message saying "I'm sorry, but I don't recognize your name. Could you remind of how we know each other?" or something like that. I did that when someone I didn't recognize friended me, and he sent me a message back reminding me. I felt like an idiot, but I'd rather have that than have some random stranger have access to my contact information.

Send them a message and give it a week or so; if they don't reply send them another message if you want, then deny the request.
posted by MadamM at 8:41 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sex advertisers. They're all over social networking sites.
posted by kdar at 10:02 PM on June 29, 2007

kdar: you can't really put advertising in Facebook profiles the same way you would in MySpace.
posted by divabat at 10:17 PM on June 29, 2007

I've been getting this a lot recently. Invitations from people with no profiles and few friends. Initially I added them, but started getting tons of "invitations" to "events" that turned out to be links to sites and tons of spam (messages etc). So it's definitely possible, and the worst part is that adding a friend allows them to view your list of friends (I believe). I've started sending "How do we know each other?" messages to these people.
posted by null terminated at 12:26 AM on June 30, 2007

Yes, a limited profile looks like that.

They're probably mostly scammers. But keep your eyes open. People from elementary school (in college now) have found me on the 'ol spacebook.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:23 AM on June 30, 2007

I've gotten a lot of these and just figured they were people who wanted tons of friends, you know, just so their friend listing shows "Friends: 10,578" or something like that.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 4:10 PM on June 30, 2007

could be a serial adder.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2007

My name is common enough that there are a few dozen of us on Facebook, and I've definitely gotten a few requests looking for another "me".

Also, I've done the same when I was looking for someone and found several matches, especially if it is someone I knew along time ago, or if the pictures don't clearly show that its the person I'm trying to connect with.
posted by langeNU at 12:28 PM on July 2, 2007

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