Accepted a Facebook friend request recently from someone you don’t actually know?  Did you do it because you have a ton of mutual friends (or because she’s hot)? You just fell victim to the newest wave of digital spam – a fake Facebook profile.  It might look something like this…

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A few weeks after you and Eliza are friends, don’t be shocked if you start getting messages to become a fan of random local associations, businesses, and other things you’re probably not interested in.  What’s happening here?  Spammers are creating artificial word of mouth marketing online by manipulating the basic trust people have in recommendations from their friends.

Online marketers are selling these ‘fake friends’ to legitimate companies who probably have no idea what they are getting into — and only care about the promise of fans (prospects).  They probably saw something like this…

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Both the marketers selling this service and the companies buying it are doing a disservice to themselves and the health of the social web in general. Keep this post in mind when you get friend requests in Facebook – and please, keep your social media marketing efforts on the up and up.