The perils of Facebook – lessons learned the hard way

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By Kristina Coyne

February 2, 2017

Category: Facebook

Many people love Facebook. I’ve even been known to spend some time on there myself :). I wanted to share with you though some recent experiences, and let you know about an incredibly useful Facebook feature I’ve just come across.
This all started after I attended “The Room” event with Michael Cheney in Edinburgh. He suggested that a good way to find people who are interested in the products and services you provide is to find and connect with them through Facebook.
All good so far.
So after the event, I thought “OK, I have to start putting what I have learned into action”. Facebook seemed like a logical place to start.
I’ll tell you what I did, and the consequences of all of it. Then I’ll tell you about what I should have done, and based on that, what I am now doing.

What I did

I created a new Facebook account. I didn’t want to mix up this new venture with my personal friends and family. And I figured that they wouldn’t be very interested in all the information I planned to post about internet marketing and business success, and the people I would be interacting with.
When I created the profile, I didn’t bother doing anything with the security settings. I was comfortable with the settings which I had on my personal profile, and assumed that the new profile would be the same.
I connected with the people I met at The Room event.
Then things got interesting.
I set up the profile on Saturday afternoon. By Thursday, I had over 500 “friends”. I was getting hundreds of friend requests a day. I was getting people trying to video call me. I was getting hundreds of messages, some pornographic.
When the first friend requests came in, I accepted them, as I assumed they were connected with the people I had met. I also sent some friend requests, based on Facebook’s recommendations.
Somewhere along the way, things went very pear-shaped.
I have now spent half a day going through all my “friends” and unfriending those I have no real connection with. Some of them may well be decent people, and may in fact be interested in my business. However at this stage I am not willing to risk it. I have left those people who I actually know, know by reputation, or who are connected to people I actually know.
I have also seriously revised my privacy settings.
I am now down to 73 friends.
My inbox has stopped exploding with friend requests.
I no longer have random people calling me.
My Facebook screen is no longer covered with message requests saying “Hello pretty lady”.
So here’s some of the crap which went on:

  • people “liking” my profile picture – uncomfortable
  • people commenting on my profile picture – creepy
  • people sharing my profile picture – what the …?!
  • people writing on my wall things like “thanks for the add” – don’t you have anything better to do?
  • people video calling me – what makes you think I would talk to someone I don’t know?
  • people messaging me incessantly, with inane comments like “Hallo” – if you’ve got something useful to say, say it
  • people messaging me pornographic photos – YUK, go away!
  • people leaving spammy comments on my posts – crap, not the image I am trying to portray
  • people adding me to groups without my permission – not ok.

Now I don’t know if all this happens to males too, or if a lot of it is just because I am a female. In any case, I now have it cleaned up, and am in much better shape.
Along the way I have learnt a lot, which I’ll now share with you.
Before I do that though, I would like to apologise to anyone else who got caught up in this. Anyone who had any of my new “friends” contacting them and putting them through the same crap they gave me. I am so sorry.

What I should have done

I could have kept the one Facebook profile

There’s a number of factors which come into this.
The first one is that having multiple profiles is against Facebook’s Terms of Service. These are available at https://www.facebook.com/terms. I accessed them on 27 Jan 2017, at which time they stated
Registration and Account Security
Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

  1. You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
  2. You will not create more than one personal account.
  3. If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
  4. You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.

So although people do create more than 1 profile, Facebook does not like it.
My reason for creating another one is so that I could separate my posts into different groups, and have different audiences for each one. This brings me to my second factor, which is that Facebook already has functionality to segregate your friends. I didn’t know this before, and it is something which I think is incredibly useful, and more people should know about. I’ll tell you all about this, and how it works, under What I’m doing now.

I should have reviewed my privacy settings

When setting up my profile, I should have looked at the privacy settings straight away. By default, profiles are created so that “Everyone” can send you friend requests. It’s no wonder then that I was inundated with them.
Make sure you change your setting for who can contact you to “Friends of friends”.
Also look at who can see your posts. You might want to set it to “Friends” in your main settings. You can change this for each post that you do, if you want to.

I should have checked people’s connections before friending them or sending friend requests

I assumed that everyone who was sending me friend requests was connected with my friends in some way. Many of them weren’t. Which meant that I accepted a very random group of people, many of whom are not people I would choose to associate with.
Be discriminating. Before accepting a friend request, check out who they are connected to, and if you are willing to accept that connection. Don’t just accept everyone willy nilly as I did.
The same goes with sending friend requests. Only send requests to people you already have a common connection with. Don’t just accept Facebook’s suggestions. Who knows what algorithm they use to come up with them?

I should have made sure I could read everyone’s names

Some friend requests I accepted did not use the normal (English) lettering. This made it difficult for me to determine what they were writing. All the porn I received was from profiles not using normal lettering.

What I’m now doing

When I was cleaning up the mess I had made, i used these tools. I will continue to use them, to make sure I keep myself and everyone else safe on Facebook.

Unfriending people

This is the simple one, which pretty much everyone knows about. If someone behaves in a way which I don’t like, I unfriend them.
This also then removes that person from being able to connect with any of my other friends.

Blocking and reporting people and deleting messages

People who are not connected with you can still send you messages. You can block people so that they can no longer contact you. You can also report messages to Facebook, and delete the messages.
If you are using Facebook on a computer (as opposed to the app on a mobile device), this is how you do it.
At the top of the message on the top right, click the cog.
Facebook messages showing block, report and delete messages
Select the option from the menu.
Delete Conversation is really useful, so that the conversation doesn’t keep being displayed in the Facebook list.
If you are using the Facebook app with Messenger on a mobile device, this is how you do it.
Scroll to the top of the message so you can see the person’s name.
Person's name at top of Messenger window
Tap on the person’s name.
Options in Messenger
Tap on Block, at the bottom of the list.
Block options in Messenger
Select how you want to block the person.

Friend lists

If you remember only one thing from this post, remember this.
Facebook has some built-in friend lists. You can find these on your Facebook feed, in the navigation area.
Showing Friends Lists available from Facebook navigation bar
When you click Friend Lists, this is the screen which is shown.
The Friends lists
The ones which Facebook sets up by default are

  • Family – your close or extended family
  • Close friends – your friends, who you can share exclusively with if you want. I am using this for people I actually know well.
  • Acquaintances – people who you might want to share less with. I am using this for people I know by reputation, or who are connected with close friends.
  • A location-based group – in my case, Canberra, which Facebook picked up from my profile information
  • Restricted – friends who can only see posts and profile info you make public

You can then add other lists, to meet any other types of connections you have. I have added Friends of acquaintances, which I am using for friends of acquaintances, as it says. These are the people who are a couple of steps removed from me.
Once you have assigned people to the groups, you can then use the groups to share information with when you are posting information. So I can share something with my Close friends, and my Acquaintances and Friends of Acquaintances will not see it.
The even more incredibly useful way you can use this is to filter your Facebook feed. There are certain people’s posts which you really want to see, and others you don’t care so much about. If you put people into groups, you can select a group, and only see the posts from people in that group. Magic! Straight away you’ve saved yourself time by being able to concentrate on the posts which are important to you.
I highly recommend you look into using the Friends lists.

My pledge

From now on

  • I am diligent about investigating who I befriend.
  • I only accept and send requests to friends of friends.
  • The mutual connection must be someone I respect.
  • I only accept requests from people whose names I can read.
  • I review my security and privacy settings periodically.
  • I make sure that all friends are associated with a friend list, so that I can segregate who I share information with.
  • I have a zero tolerance policy for creepy behaviour. If anyone does something which I consider is icky, I will unfriend and block them.

I hope that you will learn from my bad experience. A lot of it was my own fault – I was too complacent and made too many assumptions. I’ve learned now.
And along the way, I’ve discovered an incredibly useful feature of Facebook which I hope you’ll use too – Friend lists.

Over to you

Step 1. Share this post. Let’s spread the word about Friend lists and other useful Facebook features.
Step 2. Let me know in the comments below what experiences you’ve had with Facebook. Have you come across the Friend lists before? Do you have any other tips for me?
Step 3. Connect with me on Facebook ;) If we don’t have any mutual friends, send me a message explaining that you’ve read this post. Otherwise, according to my rules above, I may not accept the request.
Shine bright.

Kristina Coyne

  1. Kristina this is pure gold. Thank you for this really great post. I, too, have been having problems such as yours and your post has given me some good tools for dealing with them.
    I tend not to accept any friend request until I have checked their friend list (mutual friends only) and looked at their profile page. I refuse anyone who isn’t in my sphere of influence. Network marketers for example, do not often get on my friend list. Not because I don’t like network marketing but because many of them tend to spam my friends.
    Thank you again for your very valuable post.

    1. Thanks Ian. Yep, you’re totally right about checking people out before sending or accepting friend requests. I have started to do that now.
      You raise a really interesting point about deciding who to accept. I guess my attitude is to accept most requests (provided they meet my new and improved vetting criteria) and then if they start getting spammy to then unfriend them. Rather than to assume that people will behave in certain ways and use that to accept them or not. I guess we’ve all got different experiences which influence how we behave.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post.

  2. Kristina, I appreciate the information. You have done a great job of explaining everything, including providing screen shots of various procedures.
    When you review a friend request, there are two steps that I STRONGLY suggest adding.
    (1) Look at the About section of the would-be friend’s Facebook page. That’s their profile in which they will often indicate where they’ve lived, where they received their education, and where they’ve worked. If this information has been filled in, it can give you a good indication of whether or not they’re in the online marketing space, as you are. Sometimes this section is blank. If it is blank, that is not — on its own — a make or break issue for me.
    (2) Look at their Timeline. This gives the history of their posts. Check to see that they have posted some content related to marketing. People in our space sometimes also post motivational stuff and self-development stuff, which is fine too.
    I don’t care WHO their friends are. I have received friend requests from people who were friends of Dean Holland, Michael Cheney and who had thirty other friends in common with me in online marketing, and whose sole post was a photo of a cute baby.
    Okay, a picture of a cute baby is not as bad as the porn and the other gross stuff that we sometimes get subjected to, but if that’s all the person has on their Timeline, they’re a lightweight.
    I absolutely categorically will not accept such a person as a friend.
    Just my two cents’ worth.

    1. Fabulous information Judy. Thanks for the additional information, that’s really valuable.

  3. Thanks for that in depth explanation Kristina, it’s extremely useful cos I didn’t know any of that stuff….I shall certainly be going back through my own list of ‘pretty lady’ messages and giving them the elbow thanks to your info.

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