Social Question

diavolobella's avatar

How did a stranger send me a message on Facebook?

Asked by diavolobella (7925points) March 7th, 2013

I noticed yesterday that I had a message in my “other” message inbox. It was from a total stranger and said something like “Hello Gorgeous, I’d like to get to know you if that’s alright. Cheers!” It was (purportedly) from some guy in the UK. I’m not searchable in Facebook by name to begin with and my privacy settings are set so that only friends of friends can contact me. This guy is not a friend of a friend. So, can anyone tell me how this guy was able to contact me and, since he commented on my looks, how he saw my profile photo? It’s so weird. I’ve gone back and forth in the Facebook privacy settings and confirmed all my settings are correct, but I can no longer see any option boxes about who can send you messages. I don’t get how he could have found me to message me in the first place.

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24 Answers

diavolobella's avatar

Oh dear me. I’ve never used the “People You May Know” function, but in looking at it for the first time I see it suggests friends of friends (which makes sense) but also recommends total strangers. I guess that’s how the guy could have found me, but that’s sort of alarming. Why would Facebook think he may know me if we have no friends in common. Ew.

janbb's avatar

I consider FB the spawn of the debbil and am always one step away from deleting my account.

RandomGirl's avatar

The “people you may know” function takes a lot of information and gives people the names of people with similar hobbies, likes, hometowns, and jobs. With your settings set the way they are, I’m kind of surprised it gave your name to person with no mutual friends, all the same. Ew, for sure.

diavolobella's avatar

@RandomGirl It is very weird. Just to see what it will show you about a person “You May Know” who you have no mutual connections with, I looked at a couple it suggested for me. I noticed it did show relationship status, so this guy could/should have seen that I have a partner. Creeper!

sinscriven's avatar

Your profile picture cannot be made private from my understanding.
The people you know feature is imperfect, the algorithm doesn’t always pick people that are friends inside your network.

it’s also possible that you could have been found through graph search, which gives you a ton of power in finding people that you may not otherwise easily find

“Show me single women within 30 miles of 90210 who like hot dogs.”

diavolobella's avatar

@sinscriven What is “graph search”? Wouldn’t my likes be hidden from public view if I’m not searchable? (Jeeze! I just Googled it. Who thought THAT was a good idea?)

Just as a disclaimer, I’m not scared by this or upset or anything. Just a little weirded out and curious about how it was possible.

@janbb Facebook is a crucial tool for someone like me with a large, very far flung extended family and friend group (part of life as a military brat, I guess) so I wouldn’t be without it, but I do like to keep my security settings as high as possible.

janbb's avatar

@diavolobella I know; my remark was not particularly helpful and I’m sorry. It is the default social network but its opaqueness and seemingly exploitave qualities do bother me. I also use something called Plurk to network with people. Much smaller and more private but not many people are on it.

diavolobella's avatar

I looked up an article on PC World on how to set your security settings to avoid information showing up in Graph Search by default. It said your “About” settings are what regulates what shows up in Graph Search and all my “About” settings are set to “Friends.” I guess I showed up for some random reason and he liked my picture. So very strange.

diavolobella's avatar

@janbb It’s all good! :)

janbb's avatar

Cool!

I’ve got the answer! The guy has a bunny fetish!

glacial's avatar

Regarding the personal info or photo you’re assuming that the sender saw, the message was probably sent to you and 500 other people. I get messages/emails like this occasionally (when my spam filters miss them), and given the text, they’re often not even bothering to target the right sex half the time. So, I wouldn’t necessarily assume the sender saw your photo or knew you are in a relationship.

diavolobella's avatar

How does someone send spam to total strangers on Facebook if you aren’t searchable? I mean, how would they have found my user name to do that?

glacial's avatar

Yeah, I don’t know, but I think you were probably on the right track with the “people you may know” feature.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Anyone can message me and vice versa, so I dont’ know.

JLeslie's avatar

The other day I wanted to message someone I am not “friends” with and I couldn’t so there must be a way to close the function so only friends can do it. Being able to message people I am not friends with has been convenient when someone tries to friend me and I have no idea who they are. I can ask them a question how we know each other. Or, since I am a board member of a club we belong to some people have messaged me for information, which is fine with me, and we night not be fb friends.

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie I think anyone can send you a message once they find you, but I’m mostly wondering how this guy discovered my existence in the first place in order to do it. That’s what seems so strange about it to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella There are some freaks out there.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie There is definitely a way to restrict who can message you; that is probably the only facebook setting I have set to “everyone”. Since I’m not searchable, it makes sense for me – that way, friends of friends can message me without having to friend me. I think I’ve had only three spammy messages over the past 6 years.

JLeslie's avatar

Me too, maybe three in the years I have been on facebook.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Once they’ve found your page anyone can message you. As to how they found your page my guess would be random googling. Your page address is something like www.facebook.com/lighltyseared if you’re bored enough you can try all sorts of random combinations where the lightlyseared is until you hit a real page.

diavolobella's avatar

@Lightlyseared That would be some extremely random Googling since my Facebook user name is my real (and very uncommon) name with a middle initial that very few people know.

glacial's avatar

@Lightlyseared It’s possible to prevent people from finding your Facebook page using a Google search (via privacy settings), although trying random addresses in the address bar does work. What the person finds once they get there depends again on your privacy settings, one of which determines whether they have an option to message you.

That is… it’s not the case that anyone can message you once they find your page – that’s your choice.

Response moderated (Spam)
glacial's avatar

Mmm… spam.

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