Cybernews has confirmed a five-year-old Facebook glitch is sending automatic friend requests to the Facebook profiles you visit – leaving some online stalkers, er, we mean snoopers, quite embarrassed. Meta blames Facebook app's update.
Whether it's your latest Hinge match, an old crush from high school, or even the new neighbors down the block, we've all done it. Social media snooping, that is.
Normally, when you snoop on someone’s social media profile, the person has no idea and will never find out.
But some Facebook users are finding out that a little-known bug in the social media platform is exposing their shadowy behavior by automatically triggering a Facebook friend request when visiting certain individual profile pages.
The privacy glitch is definitely raising some eyebrows and even causing panic among users around the world.
“THERES A FACEBOOK GLITCH DONT FACEBOOK STALK ANYONE IT SENDS THEM A FRIEND REQUEST,” one social media maven tweeted.
Statistics show nearly 74 percent of people have confessed to looking at the social media profiles of their crushes – and about half of them do it at least once a day, according to a study on social stalking behavior by OnlineDoctor.
Less alarming, the study found that only 12 percent of people reported checking up on their former partners at least once a week, while 8% still look every day.
Not surprisingly, the most popular social media site to creep on is Facebook, of course. (Instagram and Google search round out the top three.)
Although not everyone will admit if they partake in the provocative practice, our Cybernews research team had no problem testing the theory out on one another.
After experimenting with a few different scenarios, Cybernews can confirm, this Facebook bug is definitely a thing.
But it's not all bad news. It appears that the person you are creeping on must have their friend request settings set to "everyone."
Under Facebook privacy settings, the platform asks “Who can send you friend requests?”.
The choices: “everyone” or “friends of friends.”
When the Cybernews team experimented with the privacy feature, we found Facebook accounts set to “friends of friends” did not trigger an automatic friend request to the individual whose profile was being viewed by the team.
Meaning, if you happened to creep on your crush recently, there is still a 50/50 chance you'll be in the clear.
Of note, Facebook is still the most popular social media platform in the world, with close to 3 billion monthly active users as of 2023, said data analytics site DemandSage.
Meta, Facebook's parent company, told Cybernews that the issue was caused by an update-gone-wrong.
“A recent update to the Facebook app briefly caused Facebook friend requests to be sent mistakenly. We’ve stopped this from happening and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” Meta's spokesperson said.
Meantime, the history of Facebook friend request snafus date back at least five years.
In the summer of 2017, Facebook users complained about dozens of random friend requests hitting their profiles on a regular basis, with one user claiming to have received 700 requests in just one day.
Although Facebook never addressed the issue at the time, some blamed scammer bots for the uptick in requests. Others claimed a Facebook bug was the most likely cause.
Months later, another Facebook bug surfaced, allowing blocked users to re-send friend requests to the profiles of the individuals who blocked them.
Since Facebook acknowledged this latest glitch, we can only speculate if they will fix the bug, provide a workaround, or just leave the average social media creeper in a self-imposed shame spiral.
Meta reached out to Cybernews in May and reported it had fixed the bug, and it appears Facebook has also been sending messages to users about the issue.
Several Cybernews researchers involved with the inhouse experiment were lucky enough to have received this message in their Facebook notifications.
The message is titled "Review friend requests in your activity log."
Besides apologizing for the glitch, Facebook says they have canceled any of the requests accidentally triggered by the bug.
Facebook also reminded users they can always view all friend requests, sent and received, in their activity log.
It's still unclear to Cybernews if the unintentional friend request was even showing up in the activity log of the person who accidentally triggered it.
Most users seemed to be unaware they had inadvertently generated the request in the first place.
For now, creepers can cross their fingers and hope their Facebook crush hasn't been seen on the social media platform for the past few weeks, avoiding any lingering embarrassment.
Either way, our recommendation is to act as if the whole thing never happened.
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