I got a message from someone I've never met before, or even heard of, from Nigeria. He wants to learn to write Java code and is asking me if I can recommend any websites or e-books to help him. He seems legitimate and sincere. I don't hide my web presence, so there are any number of ways he could have found me as a programmer. I'm considering replying.

However, with scams of Nigeria past in mind, I just want to double check: is there any security risk to replying to a Facebook message? Anything dangerous about this?

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    Facebook doesn't seem like a proper channel for communications about professional consultancy and suggestions. If you want to still reply, you can at least check the identity of him. Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 17:18

2 Answers 2


If you reply to a message then you give them "friend" access to your profile for one month.

Concerning Nigerian scammers then that could lead to identity theft or other website accounts being hacked using your personal information (mother's maiden name, etc.).

  • Good to know. Here's a makeuseof.com article on how to social engineer your way into being able to view someones facebook profile.
    – Andris
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:50
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    That sounds like a ridiculous policy (although admittedly Facebook has had a few of those), citation needed. Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 12:11
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    Where do they state that you give a person friend access for a month if you reply? Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 2:15
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    My mistake, I was only half right. It looks like they've throttled back the information you can access after you respond to a message. The answer is in the article linked in the first comment on makeuseof.com: "Well, Facebook’s help section states that anyone who you add as a friend or send a message to '...will have temporary access to view a small portion of your profile. They will see Basic Info, Personal Info, Work Info, Education Info and Friends.'" Digging up information on facebook's help was a challenge, but with a test using a fake profile that seemed to be how it still works.
    – Ken
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 3:56
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    @Kenneth: That's important information that should be in your answer, not buried in the comments. This accepted answer is now disseminating misinformation. Please edit it.
    – ale
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 12:59

General Rule: Never, ever respond to an unsolicited message (Facebook, e-mail, whatever).

The best possible outcome is to confirm that they have contacted a valid address, opening the door for more requests and Spam.

That's why you don't choose the "unsubscribe" links when you get Spam.

Mark it as Spam, and move on.

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