I am on Facebook with a fake name. I call it my pen name. I use it to promote my writing and to make friends with fellow writers. I meet them through groups and once I have seen their names pop up several times, I friend them.  Everyone I request usually accepts straight away. And for me this is fine as I am anonymous anyway. But I am always surprised that those who use their real names accept strangers so readily.
I do have another Facebook account with my real name though. On there I question every single friend request I get. You get accepted if you’re someone I know in real life. If I have never seen your name before, I either ignore your request or send you a message asking who the hell you are (in nicer language usually) and why you friend requested me. Even if you give me a good explanation, I usually deny the request because since I don’t know you, I’m not sure you need to know details of my personal life. You might get a chance if we have developed some kind of relationship in a Facebook group for example. I know that when you participate in one of the Facebook groups (like autism support groups) you can and do develop real and meaningful relationships with people who get you. I have accepted those and have actually become close friends with some of them. I probably feel close enough to you to share some of my personal struggles with you.

I joined quite a few writers groups on Facebook to get to know more people and to get more exposure for my blog. In order to do that I had to make new connections. So I started to friend request complete strangers (some of them I have never spoken to before) from the groups. All of them accepted my friend requests immediately. And these are all profiles with real names.They post statuses with pictures from their kids and families and sometimes post personal stuff. I don’t mind to be a bit more personal on my fake account since no one knows who I am anyway but if I would use my real name you can bet I would not accept strangers friend requests or if I do, I wouldn’t post any pictures or very personal statuses. Why should a stranger know if you’re having suicidal thoughts or that your kid has bipolar disorder or other such very personal information?

I actually do not have a problem with it. I am just baffled and trying to understand as to why someone would accept a request from a stranger who has never spoken to them before. Why give me access to your personal pictures and personal information? Some of you even have your mobile phone listed! What do you know about me? How do you know I’m trustworthy? I might be a serial killer for all you know. (now, now, no need to unfriend me all of you, I swear I’m just a nice Jewish woman from somewhere in Europe; that was just to make a point) Do you feel more safe because it’s online? Is it because we are in the same groups so that makes me trustworthy? Or do you accept all friend requests that come your way? I would at least expect a PM asking me why I want to friend you and how you found me. I would then explain my reasoning to you and then it’s up to you to decide if I sound trustworthy. I know social media has blurred the lines of boundaries a bit but I keep on hearing so many horror stories of bad people befriending innocent people and gaining their trust and then do horrible things so I wonder. Why are so many people so trusting of strangers on Facebook. Why do so many of you accept friend requests of strangers without checking them out or to PM them before adding them. It is just a bit of common sense.

That’s not to say that some people don’t have legitimate reasons of adding people they don’t know. Some may, like me, try and find more connections for their businesses or blogs.  But why use your personal profile? Why not create a new one with your business name (which should sound like a real name because we all know how Facebook LOVES to close accounts that don’t sound like a regular name) and then use this account for blog or business related stuff.

We have to be careful in this day and age. People on Facebook do not always have the best intentions. I have always been too trusting and unless proven otherwise most people were good in my eyes. But as an admin of several Facebook groups I have sadly learned otherwise. No, not everyone is good. Not everyone can be trusted and not everyone wants to be kind to you. Some creeps are solely on Facebook to do bad things to good people. So I always appreciate a private message when I friend a stranger on Facebook. This shows good judgement.

Stranger on Facebook! The next time you get a friend request from someone you have never heard of before, private message them, ask them who the hell they are and what their business is with you (and yes, you should ask that politely) and hopefully this will slightly reduce the incidents of bad guys stealing your kids pictures or worse things. And I say reduce slightly because we all know there are those who can be very convincing and turn out to be creeps anyway.