An old Facebook hoax message that claims a hacker can gain access to users’ accounts has recently resurfaced, adding to the fake stories and chain messages that often appear on the platform.
The hoax in question warns that a person named “Andrea Wilson” can hack your account if any of your Facebook contacts accept her friend request.
In reaction to the warning, users publish posts and warn people to not accept the non-existent user’s friend request.
This type of dangerous invite will never arrive, and the only inconvenience to users would be the fake messages they share amongst themselves.
Various versions of this hoax have done the rounds on Facebook timelines over the years.
Other names previously used include “Sherman Stuurman”, “Lucia Hernandez”, “James Wood” and “Magnus”.
Another issue many users may have encountered is when impostors use legitimate Facebook profile names and photos to pretend to be a particular person in order to extort compensation from the person’s contacts.
These impersonators send friend requests to the real person’s contacts, who often accept the invites under the impression that the sender has simply created a new account.
The impersonator then initiates a casual, non-specific conversation with friends or other connections, often in their own language.
The message’s style may appear vague, but the impersonator also uses the real person’s publicly available information to seem more believable.
They may then persuade the victim that they are in financial trouble and need a certain amount of money.
Believing that the person is indeed their real friend, victims may fall for this scam and transfer money into a provided account.
If you suspect somebody may be impersonating you or one of your Facebook friends, you can report the profile using the platform’s built-in tools.
How to know if your profile has really been exposed
Facebook users should also be wary of cases where accounts could have been compromised.
The platform has previously suffered security breaches that led to the leaking of personal information linked to millions of accounts.
However, Facebook has had no incidents of passwords being exposed due to data breaches.
If you keep your password and devices that store your password safe, it is therefore highly unlikely that your account will be vulnerable to unauthorised access.
If a person is able to access your email account or Facebook-linked cell phone, however, they could change the password on your account and log into your profile.
In this way, the hacker could lock you out of your own account.
There are a number of telltale signs of a compromised Facebook account, which you should look out for:
- Suspicious behaviour on your Facebook profile, such as changes to your profile, messages, or posts you didn’t write and friend request.
- Emails with instructions on how to change/reset your Facebook password when you did not request a reset.
- Notifications of logins on your Facebook account.
It is also easy to check when and where logins to your account have occurred by going to your Facebook privacy settings.
There are several steps you could take to make your account as secure as possible.
First, choose a long password that uses a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters, or consider using a suggested password that can be generated in the Chrome or Firefox browsers.
Second, enable notifications for logins from unrecognized or new devices. This way you will know when someone has managed to get into your account.
Lastly, you should activate two-factor authentication, which will send a login confirmation via an SMS or message to an authentication app.
It is also essential to keep the login information for your email account safe, as this could provide a way for attackers to change all of your linked profiles’ credentials.
Informing them of how they could distinguish between a real hack and spam messages would reduce the probability of them falling for more hoaxes in future and help to reduce the prevalence of misinformation.