Facebook Prevents Users From Sending Suspicious Friend Requests To Strangers

Facebook has begun implementing new security measures to prevent friend request spamming. Some users are  being shown a “This Request Can’t Be Sent” pop-up if their request is deemed suspicious.

To determine if a request is suspicious, Facebook takes into account how many mutual friends you and the person potentially receiving the request have. It also factors in whether any of your prior friend requests have been marked by recipients with the “Mark this friend request as one from someone you do not know at all” link that appears when a friend request is ignored. If you have few or no friends in common, have had previous requests marked, or a combination of the two, your request may not be sent.

The security pop-up’s body reads ”Do you know this user personally? To prevent misuse of Facebook, this request can’t be sent. To learn more, plese visit the Help Center. If you believe you’re seeing this message in error, you can report the problem.”

Spammers friending large quantities of strangers with no mutual friends will be thwarted by this measure. As with all security features, false positives can occur, preventing a user from sending legitimate friend requests. However, the real issue is that many are having the security measure activated against them because they play Facebook games.

Titles such as Sorority Life, Mafia Wars and FarmVille give advantages to users who have friends to take in-game actions on their behalf. However, since most people don’t have hundreds of friends playing a certain game, they must send friend requests to strangers who do play. If the sender doesn’t include a personal message stating they want to be “game friends” or the recipient doesn’t read it, and since the request actually is from “someone you don’t know at all” the request may be marked, lowering the sender’s undisclosed Facebook credibility rating.

This problem could be addressed by Facebook adding a disclaimer to the “Add as Friend” confirmation pop-up. Explaining to users Facebook’s policy on sending friend requests to strangers and the potential sanctions might stem the practice, or at least notify users of the risks of such behavior. For most users, the new security feature will further reduce the likelihood that they’ll ever receive a malicious or unwarranted friend request.

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25 Responses to “Facebook Prevents Users From Sending Suspicious Friend Requests To Strangers”

  1. Guest says:

    Good, those games are a nuisance. Requring so many friends to join leads to the problem of adding spambots who mask themselves as players to goose the system and take in gullible people. I think there should be no warning otherwise the spammers will try to get around the system. You tell them how it works, they try to defeat it.

    There are even better steps they can take to eliminate spambot accounts if they really gave a crap. There are bots on there pretending to be future or current students and sucking in real students. Simple enough, don’t add them unless they’re in your school network.

    I know FB gives more credence and freedom to profiles that are in networks. Sucks to be you hah.

  2. Jim’s WebLetter for 9/4/10 « Jim’s WebLetter says:

    [...] Facebook has begun implementing new security measures to prevent friend request spamming. Have you gotten them? I just “ignored” three this week. Now, the new application kicks in and some users are being shown a “This Request Can’t Be Sent” pop-up if their request is deemed suspicious. It’s a first line of defense against people trying to get into your friend account. I can see that this isn’t “bullet-proof” (that some distant ‘friend of a friend of a friend’ could get the boot) but I get enough spam notices in my email, hopefully this will cut down on the Facebook notices. http://www.insidefacebook.com/2010/09/03/prevent-friend-request/ [...]

  3. Blackwolfe says:

    There is also another problem. Friend requests no longer display any personal messages from the sender. Very annoying.

  4. SearchCap: The Day In Search, September 4, 2010 says:

    [...] Facebook Prevents Users From Sending Suspicious Friend Requests To Strangers, Inside Facebook [...]

  5. CRAPOLA says:

    I am trying to friend actually friends. I get this alert. Its all bullshit. I cannot even add friends that facebook tells me I might even know, and most of the time I do know them.

    FUCKED UP!

  6. Annoyed says:

    The most infuriating aspect of falling victim to these false positives–I have sent no requests to strangers or otherwise done anything improper, and I am no “gamer”–is that FB provides little, if any, means of rectifying FACEBOOOK’S error. There are so many walls placed between the user and FB support, and FB’s support policies and procedures are so opaque, that you are essentially stuck with its incorrect judgment and the resulting restrictions on your account.

  7. Pissed says:

    I think Facebook is on the right track. As a matter of fact, I think FB should quit sending profile pics with friend requests. Why?? Because I have detectives tracing some a-hole that sent a friend request to my teenage daughter…..why is that a problem you may ask.

    It’s a big F-ing problem because this a-hole’s profile pic is his less than manly genitalia.

    If they manage to find this pervert, I will be pressing any and all charges I can.

  8. Mendicant Bias says:

    ‘Crapola’ and ‘Annoyed’, I agree with you completely.
    ‘Pissed’, I understand where you’re coming from, but I cannot agree. We must remember that this is an online social networking system. If you feel unsafe, simply do not use it. Choose another. Are we just going to change FaceBook into a system of restrictive locks and boundaries that create artificial positives, and impede more true people than spammers? If FaceBook becomes too restrictive, it will become corny. If it becomes corny, many people will leave to find something more suitable.

  9. Ramy Abdeen says:

    Thats the most annoying thing i’ve ever seen…

    It happens to me many times, I couldnt add REAL friends I know in real life just because of this message, this “this request cant be sent” thing doesn’t prevent users from sending suspicious friend requests to strangers, at the opposite its increase people who wants to add ANY more friends so they’ll be more common to add anyone they wants to.

    Imagine this situation:
    For example im a production implementation, in production job i have to meet a new people every single day from a different place’s depends on the filming location, sometimes it could be in a club, or in an Airport, police station, poverty area’s….etc I know at least one person from each place of those, they usualy dont belongs to my work or friendship group and i want to add them to my friends on facebook, but unfortunately facebook turned its name to faceblock :(

    Another situation:
    My family isnt related to the internet that fast, they are still learning step by step how to use the internet and facebook, so thats why i had to make some UNWANTED relationships between me and my cousin so i can have the possibility to add him, that means if i couldnt add my families and they have like 5~10 friends they will leave facebook as fast as possible because they will feel at least lonely, and facebook will loose more customers.

    I dont want to add people that i dont know, but by doing this you are forcing me to do that just because i hope the people im adding is somehow are related to the ones i want to add later in the future.

    THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:::
    People have the choice to accept or dont accept the person he is trying to add them, so why do facebook involving itself between who they want to add or who they dont want to add???
    Just give them the freedom of choice that you steal from them and dont limit there choices.

    Its really the most silly idea i have ever seen, i also joined facebook to have like some friends from different country’s around the world to improve my knowledge and experiences, and to be more connected with others not to have a limited connections that depends only on my local area.

    PLEASE RELEASE US…………

  10. Jeremy says:

    Decided to start using facebook more so looked up a lot of old friends and colleagues and sent requests to a few dozen people I know in the last couple of days… Many accepted my requests and I’ve had some great conversations with old friends but now I am told I am blocked from sending requests for two days… Seems like a bunch of bs to me… System said some bs about too many of my requests going unanswered… So??? They were all sent within the last 48 hours?!

    Aren’t there options that allow users to restrict friend requests such as requiring that the person making the request has their email addy? Seems to me it would be better to let users control who can/cannot send requests… I don’t want old friends being restricted from sending me requests or fearing that doing so could trigger restrictions on their accounts. Facebook: quit messing up this good thing you have going and just give USERS more control over who can send requests and leave your retarded automated system out of it. Thanks.

  11. MAinVA says:

    I don’t understand all this Why does FB have the right to send me names of people I “may know” and may want to friend… by the hundreds; but does not allow me to ask people I think I know or who are related to people I know to be my friend.
    I happen to be part of a reunion committee for my HS… we are all senior citizens wanting to gtg soon, before more of us die.. I have found info on probably 12 people by asking people on FB if they are related… most 70+ people are not computer savvy.. but their kids are… FB should worry about the hackers, and other jerks, like the perverts and the users who curse, bully and otherwise are “not civil” and get rid of them as their policy states.

  12. Josh Constine says:

    @MAinVa: Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with this, but apparently this security feature has drastically reduced friend request spam, creating a safer Facebook experience for all.

  13. Larry says:

    We all know people with 5,000 FB friends know them all personally. Give us a break. Better yet, give us a real social networking service that doesn’t treat its end-users (that FB could not exist without) as stalkers.

  14. Roger says:

    It seems to me that this is becoming more and more a problem nowadays. I agree with the above post,t hat if facebook puts up too many restrictions, it’ll drive away many people. These annoying error messages are driving people mad, especially when it’s a friend or a brother that they know personally. This error message is poorly written, and I feel it just throws in error messages at random.

    Myspace is doing the same thing by driving people away from their site with all their fricken updates. The biggest problem I have with the new myspace update, is that it’s all corny looking, things are harder to find, and the website loads a lot slower. Slower loading times? They really are trying to drive people away. Now people that have dial up, won’t even be able to get on myspace because of the slow loading times. It’s taken me more than 10 seconds to load a myspace webpage before with the new layout. If it takes me that long on DSL, how long does it take someone on Dial Up?

    Security measures? New Updated profile for a cleaner look? Myspace and Facebook both need to clean up their acts, or they’ll be seeing a lot of people finding an alternative social network.

    One last thing. Facebook has no customer service available. That’s another reason I hate using facebook. I can’t contact them directly to fix a problem. No user support? Except for other users? Lame.

  15. Enrique says:

    This is disastrous and self-destructive for FB. Flagging thousands (millions?) of good users as spammers or stalkers on account of a few sick individuals just because they use the network for its original purpose –meeting people with common interests, is utterly absurd.
    This needs to be corrected ASAP. Seriously. And adding the disclaimer in the popup doesn’t even begin to address the real problem. In fact, it just makes it worse by justifying something unjustifiable. The BEST people on FB are usually those with thousands of friends –who have precisely befriended them because they bring something of value to the community! To think that they know each one of them personally would be insane.
    A group should be created –if it doesn’t exist yet– inside FB to bring down this very unfortunate measure.
    Thank you for your attention.

  16. Mark M says:

    I am so tiered of receiving a computers interpretation of what constitutes a valid friend request and evidently I am not the only one. So Dear FaceBook you seem to have it in your Progam that I am some sort of Risk I feel you are discriminating against my right to connect with other People on Facebook If they complain I understand But I do not spam or harass others on this network I play Mafia wars and on many occassions I have run into name recognition Possibilities and lord and behold they choose to connect with me. Because as a Networking site with the option of Networking they choose to Now I have again been blocked from facebook requests for this time 4 days instead of 2. What do i not understand about the words Networking, Making a Connection, In Common and Establishing Friendships, Is there another Protocol of these options you allow Specifically “Networking” I think you need to beeter assist FaceBook Users with the opportunity to be declined from the actual person. I am Not a Stalker or a Spammer or doing things which are out of character for a person like myself. I am a person who has few interests on line Meeting people establishing friendship primarily to enjoy my computer and was it not facebook that origionally sent out a challenge to be 1st in having x amount of friends with Facebook online You got to let us users have some of the control, where we can select whom we would like to chatt with and perhaps become friends of and to and allow those whom are reviewing the requests to say Yea or Nay, I am sure we as people can be permitted to do that especially since we as your user and clientle make your online property FaceBook A success, I would appreciate an e-mail back and with it an apology for accusing me of Stalking, Spamming and or not knowing the people I have contacted, otherwise maybe I begin a Petition that indicates FaceBook is over stepping its boundaries and I or someone else may think less of me I think they call what your website is doing Discrimination and or Defamatory of Character, Respond or Dont I know the Media may be Interested. Thank you for your time Mark A. Mouradian E-Mail Address is mark_the_gladiator@hotmail.com

  17. Ben Brentlinger says:

    Thanks for this blog post, I’ve been a recent victim of Facebook’s absurdity and I was starting to wonder whom I pissed off to the point of getting them to report me when I saw that facebook limited my ability to add friends, even thought I had a genuine interest in connecting with them. When I saw this blog post, the answer came clear, I didn’t piss anyone off, it was Facebook’s stupid computers flagging me just because I started playing the game, Millionaire City. I’ve never really had much interest in the games until Millionaire City piqued my curiosity and now I know why I’ve always hated those games.

  18. ravi says:

    we just want to make good friends

  19. jim says:

    so everyone quits the games and there goes the revenue! backfires on facebook

  20. Danny Quinones says:

    I Personally Feel That Facebook Has Gone Too Far With This Measure. Preventing Users From Adding Friends They Know Personally On Facebook. It’s Like Being Harrassed By A Cop For No Reason. They Constantly Violate People’s Rights. So, Something Needs To Be Done Now Before Things Really Get Out Of Hand Between FB & It’s Customers.

  21. marhusal says:

    facebook creator has rich…so he can do anything…we just costumers….so blocked was fun for him…

    by the way, at first FB can share with all friends in the world, but now limited…so the aim of fb for share with all people or friends in the world was lost…hmmm

    I just want to delete my account n see another site for share with all people in the world…

  22. Fabian says:

    Well guess what people? This site in the future might most likely get shut down. I found through government sites who monitor online traffic are receiving a lot of complaints about facebook. They are not running a site that is receiving great ratings or even considered useful anymore. I found over hundreds of blogs, complaint reports, etc. That are reporting facebook’s flawed system and a lot of it are not only coming from regular people like yourself. They are also coming from business owners, Film directors, promoters, and even people who work for the government media. If facebook has such an issue with privacy and spamming. They need to stop this automated system none sense and start having a facebook support system made up of real people. There is utterly nothing wrong with being friends with people you don’t know or even someone who has the same common interest. Remember just like when your at a bar or even a park, your always bound to meet people who have nothing in connection with you. What they are doing is restricting facebook users from certain services for the fact they do not give the time to create a better system of use. If more people begin to stop using facebook, this will end in the site being nothing more than a memory. For the biggest fact that advertisement sites pay websites like facebook, twitter, and even myspace to bring new costumers to them. If these sites loose they’re popularity, no other company will pay them anything. Of course to run a site online you need profit and with out it there is no way to keep the website running for others to use. What i myself have noticed is that they don’t have costumer service help that is answered by real people. All i see is that they made up a computer system that automates its restrictions as much as answering people who need help. This facebook is only producing a fast way to solve a problem with spam, by adding an easy system that runs itself. I have even noticed that facebook has worst ratings than myspace itself. I even was warned by 90 percent of my coworkers, classmates, and even my family that facebook is to restricted and oppressive upon people for the fact they take no time to improve the site. This was very well before i joined facebook. So everyone don’t feel that your wrong, because you are not. Remember they’re are a lot of online sources as much as government companies that can have facebook on there knees very quickly. The media is one of the most powerful and useful resources i even used years back to sue a company through my family lawyers. So what you all have to do is put these people who run facebook on the spotlight and i promise you they will be fixing it all in a heart beat. Being opening social is a freedom of choice to meet people of every aspect or even other countries and no one should restrict your way of life. People who are actually spamming or committing crimes online have to be monitored by the support teams and far the fact that we all live in a society that gives us the right to speak our minds and stop those who oppress our freedom to exist. They need to have a better system that helps facebook users report people who are committing a crime or are soliciting to others. Thank you for your attention and if you decide to add me or even say hello, feel free to do so. I currently am also a student at the university of south Florida at the moment and i work for my schools media center as a writer. Hope your wishes come true.

  23. Noah Zimmerman » Is This Censorship? Facebook Stops Users From Posting ‘Irrelevant Or Inappropriate’ Comments says:

    [...] for working to create a safe and clean environment on its corner of the web by shutting down abusive or harassing behavior, content such as pornography, or generally spamming of the system. This particular method policing [...]

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    [...] for working to create a safe and clean environment on its corner of the web by shutting down abusive or harassing behavior, content such as pornography, or generally spamming of the system. This particular method policing [...]

  25. Introducing Facebook's Graph Search | Chocolate SEO says:

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