A hoax message warning Facebook Messenger users not to accept friend requests from a "hacker" named Jayden K Smith has begun to circulate across the world, prompting confusion and an avalanche of memes.
Like most viral Facebook messages, it's a totally made up story that scares users with a vague threat before imploring them to forward the lie on to all their friends or suffer the consequences.
Also like most Facebook posts, it is very easily debunked if you think about it for more than three seconds before forwarding it on.
I am proud to announce Jayden K Smith as the new head of cyber security. He will be working with the Russians and maybe North Korea. #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realdonalbtrump) July 10, 2017
"Please tell all the contacts in your Messenger list, not to accept Jayden K Smith friendship request", one such message reads. "He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts accepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks".
I don't know who "Jayden K Smith" is on Facebook but he's sent every middle-aged friend I have into social overdrive— Seán Maher (@irishkangaroo) July 10, 2017
If the threat was that Jayden K Smith was a hacker who would try to befriend you and convince you to click on a link or open a file, it would be a much more believable threat. But of course that lacks the all-important impetus for users to forward the message to all their friends.
The idea that a person "has the system" connected to your Facebook account, and will hack you if any of your friend accepts his request, is blatantly ridiculous. What system? How does the originator of the message know anything about a "system" connected to your personal account? How does the hacker's connection to a friend of yours put you at risk of anything?
It's obvious though that the silliness of the threat is not immediately obvious to everyone, as the message has circulated broadly enough to become a running joke online.
The "don't add x and also tell all your friends" hoax is an incredibly old prank, the earliest known version listed on Snopes.com dating back to the Geocities days in 2000. Usually it's a simple case of a prankster wanting to see how far their clever joke will be circulated, although the more malevolent forms hope to bully someone by unfairly connecting their name with a worldwide nuisance.
While it's unclear which kind this latest prank is, individuals who happen to be called Jayden K Smith are probably having a pretty weird time.