Yet Another Facebook Hoax Is Circulating, and It Can Trick You Into a False Sense of Security
Does a green BFF comment mean your Facebook account is safe? Thank goodness Snopes is here to uncover the truth.
Facebook: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Facebook can cause a lot of problems and drama (privacy concerns, anyone?), but it also can help you stay connected to friends, family, old neighbors, and more. So it’s no surprise that, despite its hassles, many of us continue to log into Facebook every day.
Still, it’s important to keep the information you post on Facebook—and the information the site and app gather on you—secure. And for every tip that floats around online on a useful way to do this, there’s one that’s not useful at all.
Take this one, which has been floating around Facebook since March:
“Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, invented the word BFF,” it says. “To make sure your account is safe on Facebook, type BFF in a comment. If it appears green, your account is protected. If it does not appear in green, change your password immediately because it may be hacked by someone.”
Snopes, that trusty debunker of internet myths and legends, has already labeled this a hoax. Fortunately, this one isn’t harmful (so no worries if you already tried commenting BFF!), but it’s not exactly helpful, either.
According to Snopes, the green BFF is a Facebook feature that allows you to post animations of common phrases such as “congratulations” and “BFF.” When posted, Mashable reported at the launch of this feature, these words turn a different color, and if you click on them, a brief animation appears. BFF, as one of these words, will turn green. And if it doesn’t, that’s probably related to your browser settings, Snopes found.
So, whether your BFF comment turns green or not, it has nothing to do with your account security. If you changed your password, that’s great for your account security, but it doesn’t mean your account is completely secure forever. And if you didn’t get a green BFF, that doesn’t mean your account is safer than anyone else’s: Don’t let that lure you into a false sense of security. If you have a weak password (like password, 1234, your birthdate, etc.), you could still be at risk for getting hacked.
As with any of your online accounts, you want to make sure you use strong passwords to protect the information you put on Facebook and the information your friends and family share. What Facebook and its affiliates do with that information is another issue, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can to protect your account.
And as for the claim that Mark Zuckerberg invented the acronym BFF? According to the Oxford University Press and the New Oxford American Dictionary, the term BFF originated in 1996. Zuckerberg (who was born in 1984) was only 12 years old then, and the birth of Facebook was several years away—so there’s no guarantee he didn’t “invent” BFF, but this writer thinks it’s unlikely.