I recently had a slew of Facebook friend requests from people who I did not have friends in common with. It became a huge disturbance because it wasn’t one or two a day, I got requests to the tune of 20 daily at all hours of the day and night.
The profiles were clearly fake with celebrity images as profile pictures, new accounts, few friends, etc. But the biggest red flag was the zero friends I had in common with all of the requesters.
Why hundreds of random people would want to friend me is puzzling, but at the same time many people have hundreds of Facebook friends who they have never met nor will they ever. People should address Facebook relationships like they do relationships in their physical lives.
When you make friends with someone you base the friendship on several factors like things and acquaintances in common as well as trust, personality etc. When friends who you have already established a relationship with introduce you to their friends, you are more likely to warm up to them because you’re a good judge of character, and you assume that your friends are too. It’s kind of a background check that you don’t have to do with friends of friends.
So why don’t people apply the same philosophy to the web? What is the purpose of requesting or approving hundreds of people who they do not know or will ever know personally? Is it to feel that they truly have 1000 friends?
A study of 70 undergraduate students at a Massachusetts College found that “the more ‘friends’ you have on Facebook, the less likely you are to have, well, actual friends.” I suspect that might be true, the more friends you have the thinner you have to spread yourself so why not limit your friends and friend approvals and make those quality relationships and forget about quantity.
Facebook’s help center suggests you “accept friend requests only from people you know personally,” which sounds simple enough yet according to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the average adult Facebook user reports having 229 Facebook friends.