In the last few days, a deadly threat swept through social media.
Well, not exactly—as sites like Snopes reported, there’s no actual threat. Still, the Jayden K. Smith security scam did spread quickly through several social networks, alarming thousands of users and prompting panic in multiple countries.
A chain letter, frequently passed along as an image file through a “Share” feature,
“Please tell all the contacts in your messenger list, not to accept Jayden K Smith friendship request. 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. Forwarded as received…”
Alternate versions of the message changed the language but contained the same basic warning.
The hoax may draw inspiration from Jaden Smith, the real-life son of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. The young actor’s full name, however, is Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, so the “K.” initial and the “Y” in “Jayden” seem to be creative additions.
Over the course of several days, the warning messages spread across different social media outlets.
However, the BBC reports that there is “no evidence” of a hacker with the Jayden K. Smith moniker. The service reports that this is an especially popular rehash of a common hoax.
Earlier versions have used the names Tanner Dwyer, Linda Smith, and Bobby Roberts, among others. None of these hoaxes are grounded in reality, as certain social media outlets prevent their users from sending out friend requests to massive audiences.
According to Ben Carmitchel of Datarecovery.com, a company that specializes in information security, no known method exists for hacking social media pages simply by sending out friend requests.
“Most commonly, hackers gain direct access to users’ passwords through phishing scams, or they trick users into granting access to malicious applications. Friend requests don’t grant full access to an account,”
Users should select unique passwords for their social media accounts, using numbers, letters, and special characters to protect against potential attacks.
Social media users quickly pounced on the Jayden K. Smith hoax, turning it into a meme.
“Do not accept a request from Lizzie Borden,” one message from the Vintage History and Memes page reads. “You will get hacked.”
“Do not accept a Facebook friend request from ‘John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,'” another reads. “If you do, his name will become your name, too.”
Another image distilled the original hoax down to a single piece of solid advice: “Please tell all the contacts in your message list not to accept friend requests from people they do not know.”