You’re behaving ridiculously. Stop it.
Stop asking me whether I know someone outside of Facebook when I accept a friend request. I am never going to answer that question. And damned well stop asking everyone else as well unless and until you make it absolutely obvious that you’re going to use that information to punish people if their new friends say, “No.”
For one thing, I don’t know which Facebook people I’ve interacted with elsewhere. You may not have noticed, in your zeal to get everyone to give you their legal names, but this is the internet. I interact with people with ‘nyms older than Facebook whose legal names I don’t know. I’ve only figured out other people’s “real” names because a Facebook friend request clicked with a cryptic email address that I saw by chance once upon a time.
Beyond that, while my number of Facebook friends is nowhere near the limit of 5,000, I still act as a minor social hub. I blog. I share articles on Twitter. I go to conferences and talk with an awful lot of people. Do I remember their names? I’m terrible with names. I remember faces, on those occasions when the people I interact with show theirs, but avatars almost never look like passport photos.
I don’t always know who I know from elsewhere, and as long as you’re threatening the ability of people I’ve already chosen to accept as Facebook friends to send new friend requests, I’m not going to risk guessing wrong. Nor am I going to answer only when I can answer in the affirmative. You didn’t tell me how you were using the information before. I’m not going to trust that you won’t suddenly start treating the occasional non-answer as equivalent to “No.” I’m just not going to give you any information to work on.
Also, the very question is absurd. Facebook, you might want to sit down, because I have to tell you something. You…are social media.
This means that people interact using you. When they do this, they sometimes–you’re still sitting down, right?–make friends. These friends sometimes want to interact without having to use the medium of a mutual friend’s Facebook wall. Or all those affiliation pages and groups that you set up to get people to spend more time on your service. You know, people find common interests and build pleasant feelings towards one another and enjoy interacting. Next thing you know, they’re friends.
Then you threaten them for formally recognizing the very relationship you facilitated.
Facebook, you’ve done some seriously antisocial things in your time, but this is the first time you’ve gone so far as to make me question whether you know what business you’re in. Yeah, yeah. Sure we’re a bunch of eyes and clicking fingers you want to put in proximity to advertisements you hope are alluring. However, the way you get us there is by making it possible to interact with the people we want to interact with enough to keep us clicking around and looking at the page.
While I’m sure there’s some problem with friend requests you think this heavy-handedness fixes, asking this question of people who have confirmed friendships throws up roadblocks in the very basics of your business model. That’s farcical. It’s silly. It’s an insult to the basic idea of friendship.
Stop it already.