This morning three of my Facebook friends forwarded me the exact same message. I don't know whether they forwarded it to me for advice (though none of them followed it with a question) or they wanted to let me know so I could warn people. Each one of those friends did as the message instructed and forwarded it to all their friends
These days this type of message is a regular occurrence on Facebook Messenger. They are a modern form of chain letter invented by someone for the fun of seeing how far around the world it will get shared. The worrying thing is that it's an incredibly similar methodology to phishing messages or messages with dodgy links and malware in them. You could be falling for something worse than perpetuating a chain letter if you're not careful!
It's important for our own security that we question the validity of any information on the internet;
Fortunately there are some great sites like Snopes.com, ThatsNonsense.com and hoax-slayer.com where you can check these messages before you forward them.
If you check something and do find it looks like a real threat then don't message people individually. Instead post it on your Facebook timeline so everyone can see it, make that post public and include a link to the information you found when you checked. This allows your friends to share it to their friends and for discussion to stay centralised. If you send it through Messenger and your friends send it through Messenger then all the people you know in common are going to proliferate the same message from everyone in the group.
To dispel some of the myths in the message above;
1) As a rule of thumb don't accept friend requests from people you don't know (they are probably either looking for a bit of 'fun' or want to sell you something)
2) You cannot be "hacked" just by accepting a friend request
3) If you accepted a friend request from someone you don't know you can always unfriend or block them
Practice safe sending - check your facts first!
About the Author
Rachel Ferla is a Digital Skills and Productivity Coach with over 15 years experience as a project manager juggling multiple projects.