Facebook users are spreading a message to their online friends, warning each other about the danger of accepting a friend request from someone called Bobby Roberts.
According to the message, which has been shared widely across the social network, Bobby Roberts is a hacker who will “destroy everything”.
**WARNING!!!! DO NOT ACCEPT FRIEND REQUESTS FROM ~~~ BOBBY ROBERTS ~~~ Profile picture is four colored pictures ~~ A hacker and fake name !!!! the name will DESTROY EVERYTHING!!! PLEASE... COPY THIS TEXT ON YOUR STATUS SO THAT YOUR FRIENDS ARE WARNED************* PASS THIS ALONG A.S.A.P
Should you be concerned? I don’t think so.
You see, the information included in the warning is rather unhelpful.
First of all, this guy’s name. Bobby Roberts. It’s not exactly an unusual name is it. How are people supposed to know the dangerous Bobby Roberts from harmless Bobby Robertses (Robertsi?). What if you know someone on Facebook called Bob Roberts or Rob Roberts or Robbie Roberts or Robert Roberts – should you be careful about adding them as friends too?
Of course, it’s sensible never to add someone as a Facebook friend if you don’t really know them. Indeed, my view is that everybody should grab a dictionary and look up the word “friend”, because if you don’t know them and wouldn’t have them around for dinner in your house, you shouldn’t make them a Facebook friend.
But just being warned about a specific name isn’t terribly helpful.
Secondly, how exactly does the fake name “destroy everything”? Adding someone as a Facebook friend doesn’t destroy anything – although it might allow a stranger to access some of your profile information.
It certainly doesn’t install malware onto your computer (they would have to do something further to achieve that goal).
And what do they mean by everything? Your Facebook profile? Your computer? That small potting shed at the bottom of your garden? The collected works of Emily Dickinson (Kindle Edition)?
C’mon “destroy everything” doesn’t seem very scientific.
Finally, where’s the link to a credible legitimate third party source for this warning? If the warning included a link to an anti-virus vendor’s website where people could learn more, then maybe we would be able to take this threat a little more seriously.
So the real problem here is not someone who’s created a bogus Facebook account in the name of “Bobby Roberts”, but that so many users are forwarding the warning to all of their Facebook friends without properly considering whether it is legitimate or not.
And as a result, those users are unwittingly scaring their friends and family and adding to the amount of spam and noise on the network.
Stop sharing this hoax warning with your friends – it’s not doing them any good, and it doesn’t make you look very smart either.
Security should be taken seriously, and it’s great that people are kind-hearted enough to think of warning others. But take the time to think twice before spreading a hoax message to your friends.
If you want to really stay informed about the latest scams spreading fast across Facebook and other internet attacks join the Sophos Facebook page, where more than 100,000 people regularly share information on threats and discuss the latest security news.
We’ve also published some good best practices for better privacy and security on Facebook.
And don’t forget to visit the hoax and chain letter section of the main Sophos website to learn more about internet hoaxes we have seen in the past.Follow @gcluley