Why Do People Friend Strangers on Facebook? They Have Been “Zuckered”

The short answer to this question is that they have been “Zuckered”.  Publically, Mark  Zuckerburg’s mission is to “make the world a more open and connected place”. But if that is the case, why is it impossible to reach Facebook? There is no available phone number, no method to online chat, no office to visit, no direct method to contact Facebook other than automated form submission.  Despite the spin marketing, Facebook knows that it is NOT always in your best interest to be able to be found and contacted by ANYONE at ANYTIME.

Facebook profits from making its users dependant and connected to its product.  But Facebook is not the only one that benefits from creating open connections among its users, so do stalkers and predators.  The searching capability that allows you to determine what your friend are doing, where they live, where they go, and what they like to do is available to friends and enemies alike.
Yes, but “Why do people friend people they don’t know?” you ask.  They do it because their view of the Risk vs. Reward ratio has been colored by Facebook.  Facebook has convinced the public that all its users are using their real names and photos.  That sharing intimate details about your private life is fine because you are sharing with your “friends”.  On Facebook, there are no “strangers”. There are only people you don’t know yet. Therefore, the Risk of “friending” is perceived to be low.

The Reward is that you get to meet and interact with new and interesting people. Having more Friends, builds your network. It allows you to reach more people. It allows you to be part of a fun and interactive social scene. This ability to socialize is a powerful Reward for those who may have less opportunity to physically meet other people.  It allows people with disabilities to connect with others who share the same experience. 
The newly injured benefit greatly from peer support and the sharing of tips and advice. High profile people within the Disability Community benefit from having as many friends as possible, thus increasing their “status”.  Having many Friends is an endorsement and confirmation of desirability.  Thus, the combination of perceived low Risk and high Reward leads to wide spread “friending” of other Facebook users.

These Facebook users don't appear to be “strangers” because they have Mutual Friends with you. The more Mutual Friends the Other User has, the more likely you are to “friend” her. After all, your Friends must know her.  Facebook knows that the Mutual Friend endorsement is all powerful. That is why Mutual Friends are automatically listed next to the Other User’s name. Not accepting a friend request from the Other User would be rude, impolite, or worse, you could be missing out on something, you think.
Remember, you consider “friending” Risk to be low. You can always “unfriend” at a later date, you think. In reality, you are most likely to become a TFF (Troll Friend Forever).  The Troll may not contact you, the Troll may have “friended” you in order to gain access to your Friends, or to gain the all important Mutual Friend status to “friend” a more vulnerable victim.

In summary, people “friend” strangers on Facebook because they don’t realize or take into consideration the potential danger created to both themselves and their real friends.  They over estimate the Reward and under estimate the Risk. But on the bright side, by being educated about internet threats, predator methods, and engaging in basic precautionary measures, these Risks can be minimized.