One in Five Facebook users willing to befriend a complete stranger

While it comes as no surprise that Facebook is a goldmine of personal information, the trick is gaining access to such datum. I’m not going to bore you with why “friending” someone opens up almost all of your personal information to them; I’m sure you all know how it works. The hard part is getting someone to actually make friends with a complete stranger.

However, it seems that one in five people are willing to allow a complete stranger onto their friend list, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia Vancouver. Out of the 102 bots used and 5053 random requests sent, 976 were accepted. Another 3,517 requests were sent to friends of friends, and 2,079 of those were accepted. This led to a grand total of 3,055 accounts accessible, with another 1,085,785 friends of friends also accessible.

This total is astonishing. In total, over 250 gb of data were culled through these accounts. E-mail accessibility jumped from 2.4% to 71.8%, and postal addresses rose from .9% to 19%. Furthermore, three in five people were willing to accept friend requests when they had at least one friend in common, compared to the previous one in five.

Facebook disputes the value of the study, claiming that the accounts were given more leeway to do more things instead of being blocked by the “Facebook Immune System”” because the accounts were tied to a university IP. It also claims that the accounts were blocked much quicker than the researchers claim.

Despite Facebook’s best efforts to diminish the results, 250 gb of data is hard to argue against. On top of that, if unchecked, these bots could also further harvest data from new status updates, providing important clues about the user’s locations and activities. Creating a fake Facebook account now seems to be the simplest form of socially engineering personal information out of someone on Facebook.

Source: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/11/one-in-five-willing-to-make-facebook-friends-with-complete-strangers.ars

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10 thoughts on “One in Five Facebook users willing to befriend a complete stranger

  1. Wow. I never thought that people were THAT dumb… Like, I understand that people want to seem friendly and whatnot, but really? 1 out of 5 people accept friend requests from absolute strangers? That statistic is ridiculously high. I feel like those people just don’t care at all about their personal information. And if that’s the case, the people who do accept the friend request from random strangers deserve to be socially engineered, maybe it will teach them a lesson on how to not be an oblivious victim on the Internet… Maybe they will think next time…

    • I don’t think it’s the case that people don’t care about their personal information, it’s more that they are uninformed about the dangers. A lot of people have the mindset that most people are good and therefor there is no reason not to add a complete stranger.

    • I wouldn’t really say they (or anyone for that matter) “deserved” to be hacked. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I think there should be more information to users about why not to friend people they don’t know. “Only friend people you know in real life!” doesn’t have as much impact as “Only friend people you know in real life because now they know ALL YOUR INFO!” Then again, if Facebook wanted to stay in business, they wouldn’t really do this.

  2. That’s pretty sad. I can’t conceive why someone would do that. Aren’t they called “friends” for a reason? Last I checked, “friend” and “stranger” weren’t synonymous. It is pretty sad the state of the public mindset when it comes to these things.

  3. I know its dumb but I have quit a few people I on my account that I am not quit sure how even know. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, most of us have had strangers at one time or another because we think we know them. If you went back and unfriended them later it does not change the fact that you once fell for it. But now that we now know about it it would be pretty dumb to except a strangers request.

  4. I think I can offer an explanation as to why this behavior persists. Facebook is a social tool. For some people, the goal of using Facebook is to seem as popular as possible. What better way to do that then to have hundreds of friends. The problem is, what if you don’t know anybody on Facebook? You might gladly accept some random strangers invite just to get that number up. You might be one of those people trying to friend hundreds of strangers, and ouf of the people that you friend, there are bound to be more people like you.

    Another simpler reason may have to do with profile images. If you are a single guy and a hot “girl” friend requests you I bet that half of you would accept it just to learn more about this person, and vice versa for that single girl out there. Maybe the user has a cute kitten picture for a profile, and we all know that kittens are harmless!

  5. One of my real-life friends recently asked me to “friend” her on Facebook. When I looked her up, I saw that she had 168 friends. I think it would be difficult to really care what 168 people are doing with their lives. I’ve heard it said that you can count your true, life-long friends on one hand. The rest are just acquaintances.

  6. Back at my high school, I’ve seen people with over 2,000 friends. One girl has over 3,000, but I finally deleted her because it was obvious she was only in it to brag about her love life at all hours of the day to a friend list larger than the population of my town. Regardless, I only have 400 friends and feel unpopular. I’ve actually deleted more people than I’ve added since arriving at RIT, mostly because I didn’t want to hear what those people were doing anymore. I only add people I talk to.

  7. I am very surprised how low that fraction is that only one in five people would befriend a complete stranger on Facebook. I assumed that the number would be much higher because people do not understand basic internet social media security.

  8. I am truely not surprised. Many people use social networks with the intention of increasing their friends count. They might meet someone 1 time and cant wait to go home and “friend” them…these are the same people who if they get invited by a random person will think, “well, they want to be my friend so why not?”

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