Many Facebook users around the world are now familiar with the name Jayden K. Smith after a message went out yesterday warning everyone online not to accept a friend request from this mystery person. Perhaps for some, it was already too late, as they now have a new addition to their “friend” list, having not gotten the warning about this account before selecting “accept” to this stranger’s seemingly friendly offer. Now, we know what the real threat of this viral message going around is and what it’s done to millions of people on Facebook.
The message spread like wildfire, filling people’s Facebook feeds or messages from known friends in your Facebook Messenger inbox. It was alarming but seemed to serve as a heads up that if you get a friend request from a “Jayden K. Smith,” to not accept this black-listed Facebook user who is allegedly a hacker. The alert simply stated that this maniacal individual masquerading as a normal person on social media would have access to all of your personal and private information once you take the request bait and allow him onto your profile. However, was this a hack or a hoax? Here’s what you really need to know now 24 hours after it swept the Internet.
The message that you may have gotten along with many others of Facebook looked like this: “Please tell all the contacts in your messenger list not to accept Jayden K. Smith friendship request. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks. ”
While well-meaning users shared this just to be safe and not sorry, what they were really spreading was something much different than they thought. Fox 2 Now reports:
“Mass friend requests are flagged by Facebook as spam. So it is unlikely that anyone using a single account would use this as a method to hack millions of people. It is also against the social network’s terms and conditions so the offending account would be easily dealt with.”
It would be impossible for a single Facebook user to request millions of people’s friendship at once, or within a short time period, without being flagged and prevented from doing so. Additionally, a friend of yours on Facebook is not able to break into your account simply by you accepting their request. For these reasons, “Jayden K. Smith” is not a hacker, it’s a hoax message that managed to dupe droves of Facebook users into falling for it, but that doesn’t mean a Facebook danger is non-existent.
“The Independent reports that you shouldn’t just accept all friend requests. A hacker can’t access your password by simply becoming your friend but they can get a lot of information about you. Be careful who you accept as a friend because they can potentially see your personal information like address, date of birth or phone number,” according to Fox 2 Now.
“You should ignore the request to share this warning. Messages like this get recycled from time to time. They often contain elements like sensational warnings with devastating consequences and a prompt to share the message with everyone. Past warnings include names like Bobby Roberts, Anwar Jitou, and Tanner Dwyer.”
“There is no Jayden K. Smith. I mean, maybe there is, but he (I’m going with Jayden being male) is no different than the dozens of other ridiculous friend requests you get from people you don’t know — people typically based in the middle east and/or supposedly divorced or widowed and currently in the U.S. military.”
“You accept them, they try to get you to buy some island from their dying father, you mess with them a bit and then their account gets shut down by Facebook. It’s really as basic (and harmless) as that.”
“The only way to protect your account — or at least attempt to — from hackers is to have a strong password, not leave your account logged on when you leave a shared computer and to be vigilant. Oh, and use some common sense.”
If there’s one thing we should take away from this viral message, it’s a bigger lesson. There were many sensationalized notices just like this one that came before it and there will likely be others after since that love of chainmail still seems to exist in some adults who never got it out of their system as teens. Just like the commenting “amen” on a post won’t save a child in Ethiopia from dying of starvation or ensure a cure for cancer, common sense should be used in mass messages like this one before sharing it or believing something catastrophic will happen to you if you don’t.