Do you really look at who is requesting you as a connection or friend before you click to accept? A question came to us the other day about being a little too relaxed about requesting and accepting friends. A perplexed reader writes:
Q: My 18-year-old college freshman niece recently ramped up activity on her Facebook page. I suspect that’s partly due to the fact that she’s far away from home and can sit up at all hours online in a way she couldn't do back home.
Anyway, one of her first moves upon learning I was on Facebook was to send me a friends invitation. Of course, I accepted it. But then she proceeded to contact several of my adult male friends – people whose names/profiles she saw on my friends list – and invited them to be her friends.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned or over-protective, but I had a huge problem with my teenage niece reaching out to guys in their late 20s, early-to-mid 30s, and so on, to be "friends" with them online.
I don’t want to be the old curmudgeon uncle, and tell her something outdated like "it’s unbecoming of a young lady..." - something our great grandmother might have said to us.
But something about those friend requests she made bugs me. In several cases, my buddies are married or in serious committed relationships. I asked each one of them what the deal was, and they all said they never look at friend requests to see who they’re from. They just hit the accept button and keep moving. I haven’t said anything to my niece, ‘cause I’m still not sure yet if I’m overreacting.
A: You're not overreacting. It's one thing to friend people who are acquaintances. I have 420 friends. When I request someone as a friend, it's just to keep in touch. As my 24-year-old roommate once explained it, friending someone just means: "Hey, if you die, I'd like to be notified of it."
But it's a whole different story if she never met your friends. There are lots of spammers with fake accounts on Facebook and MySpace who only friend strangers. It's happened to me a few times where I never met the person, I have no friends in common with that person, and yet they requested my friendship so I would go on their page and see the spammy sex site links on the profile. It's amazing how many people just accept the friendship to complete strangers.
And most people who do that get reported. A stranger she friends might report her if they think she's a spammer by requesting people she doesn't know. In the worst case scenario, she could lose her Facebook account (I doubt that would happen). And at the very least, she is perceived as being creepy.
It's not proper for her to just grow her collection of friends from your friends list when she doesn't even know these people. It also makes you look bad with your network for having a niece that is pestering all your friends. If she doesn't care about looking weird, then she should care that it makes you look bad for having an annoying niece. If you want to approach her about it, I would suggest making that point.
There's also the option of using privacy settings to keep her from seeing any of your friends.
And what is the deal with these friends of yours accepting her request without knowing who she is? I'm guessing they see that they have you as a common friend. And then they think: "Am I supposed to know that girl? Maybe I do and I forgot. I don't want to be rude and ignore it in case I did actually meet her before."
But it's OK to not accept a friend request from someone you don't know! It's your profile. You have to be choosy who sees it. And that's coming from the gal with way too many '"friends."