A hoax warning is making the rounds on Facebook urging users not to accept a friend request from someone named Jayden K Smith, an alleged hacker who could potentially take over their account and steal their data. The message also asks users to pass on the information to everyone in their Facebook messenger contacts list to help keep their friends safe.
The message has evolved into multiple versions with thousands of people sharing the fake message online.
One version reads: "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. Forwarded as received."
The warning message, however, is a hoax.
The widespread post has long been recycled under different names, urging users not to accept requests from purported hackers named Christopher Davies, Jessica Davies, Christopher Butterfield or Anwar Jitou among others. At the moment, Jayden K Smith seems to be more popular than others.
According to Snopes.com: "Variants of these messages are circulated endlessly, with different names swapped in and out as various pranksters decide to play jokes on people they know by inserting their acquaintances' names and addresses into the warning in place of the existing information."
While users should be wary of friend requests on social media from strangers, security firm Tripwire says simply accepting a particular request will not surrender your account to a threat actor.
"That's not how hacking works," researchers wrote in a blog post on Monday (10 July). "To obtain access to a user's Facebook account, nefarious individuals need to steal their username and password for the social media site. Unless those login credentials are (unadvisedly) hidden somewhere on a private Facebook profile that only approved friends can view, there's no risk that a new contact could seamlessly hack a user's account."
Security expert Graham Cluley advised people to check the facts before sharing such warnings.
"As we've all discovered over the years, it's too easy to share too much on social networks like Facebook", Cluley said. "I'm sure these warnings are often shared with the best intentions, but if you truly care about your Facebook friends check the veracity of what you're sharing with a credible source *before* you share it. After all, you don't want to be the purveyor of fake news, do you?"
Of course, some people also took to social media to mock users sharing these messages with various memes, jokes and comments.