Connection Request: Friend or Foe?

Protect your digital presence by making sure you know who is really behind those connection or friend requests with these useful tips.

I just received a connection request from what looked like to be a colleague on LinkedIn and immediately I knew something didn’t seem right.

I viewed their profile and noticed that they only had one workplace experience. The title was executive admin and I’m looking at the picture thinking that I don’t recognize this face at the office. Now try not to judge me here, but “normally” (and I use air quotes here because what’s normal is constantly changing) Emma is a girls name, but the image was that have a gentleman in a suit and tie. The profile only had 4 mutual connections all with fellow and former employees and their interest was their current employer.

So like a great detective I did a bit more digging. I did a name lookup in my work’s outlook address and nothing. I then used one of my favorite tactics of all times- reverse image lookup- and wallah!

The profile pic was actually that of a CEO from a bank!  I immediately reported the account to LinkedIn, sent an InMail to the CEO of the bank and notified my mutual connections that they should remove the connections.  After all, as part of a digital community, you’ve got to look out for one another.

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It took me 2 to 3 minutes to sniff this fake account out, but why did other colleagues accept the request? Quite simply, most likely because it was a request from what looked like a colleague and all colleagues are friends right?

And this my friends is why I say you don’t have to accept every single connection/friend request and to have your guards up! We need to remember to protect our digital presence. To help, below are a few simple steps you can take to figure out if that connection is friend or foe.

  1. Always click to view full profile
  2. Take 10 seconds to scan the profile
  3. Take another 20 seconds and do a reverse image lookup
    1. Simply screenshot just the profile pic
    2. Upload image to Tin Eye
    3. Click on the link in the results
  4. If it’s from a colleague, take 5 seconds to look them up in your company directory

When scanning the profile here is what you want to look for:

  1. Profile pic should give you a good start at matching up face to the name, job title, and experience
    1. Not to be an ‘agist’, but if the pic is of someone a bit more mature looking and only one or two places of employment- red flag!
  2. Any posts or activity on that channel
    1. If none or really low, then be cautious
    2. If there are a lot of negative comments, then this is typically a tell-tale sign of a troll!
  3. How many connections/friends do they have?
    1. If on the low or extremely high, then it’s another indicator of a fake or spam account

In the end, in this day and age of cyber attacks and digital bullying you can never be too careful. Take the couple minutes and get to know who you are connecting with first. And take a look at my other blog ‘The Era of Social Relationships’ for additional tips on things you need to consider when building and protecting your digital presence.

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Pegah Kamal

Author: Pegah Kamal

I’ve spent the last 15 years learning everything there is to know about digital marketing – from content strategy to user digital consumption habits across the social web. By day, you can find me strategizing on how to take drive business impact via the social web, editing content ed cals, or analyzing program performance. By night, I’m typically researching my next vacation or home décor project on Pinterest or getting taken away with new Snapchat filters.

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