Here’s everything about someone hacking your Facebook by accepting their friend request:
Someone cannot hack your Facebook account just by having you accept a friend request.
Accepting a friend request involves no mechanism that would enable hacking.
That said, accepting friend requests opens communication that could be used to try to trick or hack you later.
So if you want to learn all about the odds of getting hacked with a friend request, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right into it!
What Is a Facebook Friend Request?
Before we can really get into the security issues that might be associated with accepting a friend request on Facebook, we first need to dig a little deeper into what is actually happening with this process.
For clarity’s sake, I’m specifically talking about Facebook today.
Friend requests with other platforms may work on different internal principles, so you can’t transfer any answers or explanations here to other social media without doing some research.
That said, a friend request on Facebook is a simple thing, and it’s relatively safe.
In fact, let’s give away the spoilers right now.
The act of accepting a friend request cannot cause you to be hacked.
There’s a lot more to say about that, but it’s an important fact to state early and often.
More to the point, the interaction that happens with a Facebook friend request and acceptance is entirely within Facebook servers.
What does that mean?
Well, Facebook provides an online service.
By using either the website or the app, you can access your Facebook account.
That allows you to see what your friends and groups are up to.
You can manage pages that you control.
You can do all of the Facebook things, but you have to connect online via the app or the website to do any of them.
Ultimately, if you connect to something online, it means that there is a computer system on the other end of that connection.
For large sites or platforms like Facebook, those computer systems are usually servers (or server farms).
Here’s the point in all of this.
When you do something on Facebook, you’re really just giving commands to the server.
The changes take place on the server, and then your device (or anyone else’s device) can download information related to those changes.
Take publishing a picture as an example.
You can upload a picture that you took to your Facebook account.
When you do, the digital information in that picture is transferred over the internet to Facebook servers.
Then, other people who have permission can see your photo on their own account.
In order to see the photo, the Facebook servers have to send digital information related to that photo to their device.
There’s a middleman in the process, and that middleman is the Facebook servers.
Here’s what you can trust about that.
The Facebook servers themselves are never going to send you anything malicious.
Doing things on your Facebook account will not give someone else access to the account.
That’s just not how it works.
Now, Facebook can be used as a tool to get you to do dangerous things off of the Facebook platform, but the Facebook servers themselves are quite secure and protected against sending malicious things directly to you.
I’ll explain how all of this works in more detail as we go.
Can Someone Hack Your Facebook Account When You Accept a Friend Request?
As I already said, someone cannot hack you through a friend request.
There is never a case where accepting a friend request instantly gives someone else access to your account or any of your devices.
Accepting a friend request only establishes a friend connection between you and the other person on the Facebook platform.
That’s the limit of everything.
Why Can’t Your Facebook Account Get Hacked With a Friend Request?
Perhaps the easiest way to understand why accepting a request can’t get you hacked is that the entire process is only on the Facebook servers.
To send or request a friend on Facebook, there is no direct exchange of information between you and the other user.
They can’t send you a link or a download or anything else.
They hit a button on their Facebook account to request the friendship.
That sends a specific signal to the Facebook servers saying that one user wants to befriend another.
There’s no opportunity to hide anything in that signal.
Even if there was, Facebook servers play the middleman.
The servers are informed that someone wants you to be a friend, so the servers then independently send you a notification of the friend request.
I’m emphasizing this point.
The friend request actually originates from the Facebook servers.
The only way someone could hide malicious software or actions in that request is if they had control of the Facebook servers, which they don’t.
So, when you accept the request, you are once again communicating directly with and only with Facebook servers for that action.
Are There Any Dangers From Accepting Facebook Friend Requests? (4 Risks)
So far, I’ve only discussed the specific, technical aspects of how a friend request works.
Hitting the accept button cannot harm you or your account or your devices.
That said, accepting a friend request from someone you don’t know could be the first step in a more involved process that eventually leads to bad outcomes.
In other words, once you become friends with someone, it’s a lot easier for them to contact you.
When they contact you, they can exchange information with you directly, and that’s how harm can come.
Most of the time, that harm comes in the form of dangerous links, malicious downloads, and/or tricking you into giving up important information.
Let’s look at specific ways that all might happen.
Scams are probably the easiest thing to understand because they don’t involve any mysterious technology.
A scam can happen face-to-face or through other means of contact.
The point is that a scam occurs when someone tricks you.
A common scam might be for someone to tell you that they’re in a tough financial spot and they need help.
You’re Facebook friends with this person, so you might feel like you have a connection with them.
Since we’re talking about a scam, they’re probably lying about how the two of you are connected.
They’re probably also lying about why they need money.
Regardless, they convince you to give them money, and once you do, that money is gone forever.
You can imagine how this exchange could happen without the involvement of Facebook at all.
Scams don’t require hacking or viruses or any of that.
It’s just a matter of someone talking in a way that ultimately tricks you, and Facebook can be the means by which they talk to you.
What does that have to do with a friend request?
Well, Facebook has messaging filters that automatically make it more difficult to talk to someone who isn’t a friend.
When you accept a friend request from someone you don’t know, you open the door for communication.
You can unfriend or even block them if you want to, but the point is they see the friend acceptance as an opportunity to try to run the scam.
So, accepting the request doesn’t automatically get you to fall for a scam.
Instead, it’s just the starting point of the full scam process.
#2 Social Engineering
In addition to scams, you have social engineering.
Technically, a scam might qualify as a form of social engineering.
Social engineering is really whenever you trick someone for the sake of a specific goal.
Social engineering isn’t always related to scams though.
It could be used to trick you so that the other person can hack your accounts or do other bad things.
So, social engineering works a lot like a scam.
It’s based on direct communication with another person, but because this is a broader topic, I’ll point out how social engineering could be used to hack your accounts and/or devices.
It still starts with a conversation.
The other person is friendly and trying to get to know you better.
Through conversations, they ask you things like your favorite music and your first concert.
They ask you where you went to school, who your favorite teacher was, and why.
Lots of other questions come and go.
At some point, they might also ask if you have an email address so they can send you something, and at this point, they probably have enough information to hack your account.
With Facebook, your email address is the most common username used to sign in.
So, they tricked you into giving that up.
They never asked for your password (and you should never give your password to anyone), so they did a workaround.
They asked you for the answers to the security questions that you use to reset your password, and they did it in friendly, unassuming ways that never tripped your suspicion. (Rest assured, there are defenses you can take against this scenario.)
With the answers to your security questions and your email address, they have enough information to reset your password and steal your account.
What they do with it could depend on a lot of different things, but this is how social engineering works.
You’re giving up important things without realizing it, and the risks of social engineering are a lot more pronounced when someone can easily talk to you.
#3 Dangerous Links
Perhaps the biggest risk of accepting new friends is that they can send you links, and links can get around the protection of Facebook servers.
When they just type words to you, those words can’t really do anything to your computer.
Sure, they can trick you into a scam or social engineering, but the typed words themselves can’t act on their own.
Links are different.
As soon as you click on a link, you’re connecting to a non-Facebook server.
You’re giving your device permission to communicate with that server, and if it’s a malicious server, then bad things can happen.
Bad links essentially connect you to websites that automatically try to download malicious software onto your computer (there are other possibilities, but this is the most common).
That software can steal passwords or set up tools that help people hack your device.
So, accepting a friend request can’t cause you to get hacked, but taking an unknown link can.
Now, that doesn’t mean that all links are bad.
It just means that if you don’t know who you’re dealing with or what the link is beforehand, then the prudent choice would be not to click on it.
#4 Financial Fallout
Up until now, I’ve been talking about how malicious activity works, but I haven’t really discussed the stakes.
If someone can scam you, trick you with social engineering, or outright hack you, they can do a lot of bad things.
With control of your Facebook account, they could harass your friends and family.
They could misrepresent you to make you look like an awful person.
They might even be able to get you fired from a job if they go far enough.
But, unless they have a personal vendetta against you, there’s not much incentive to do any of those things.
Most of the time, they’re just trying to get money.
So, they can use your Facebook account to try to scam your friends and family.
Or, they can use their hacking skills to try to steal your financial information or even your identity.
This could effectively empty your bank accounts.
It could also leave you on the hook for credit that you didn’t take out.
It can tank your credit and mess with your finances in a lot of ways.
If there’s a single reason to know about how Facebook security risks work, this is probably it.
You don’t have to worry about clicking the “accept” button, but you definitely need to think about what happens after that.