Mess with Your Facebook Friends

FACEBOOK WOULD LIKE ME TO THINK I HAVE 4,000 FRIENDS. If that were true, I wouldn’t sit at home every Saturday night, at least one person would have helped the last time I moved, and I would have a full-time job.

Unless you only add and confirm people you know in real life, most of your Facebook “friends” are no-good self-promoters who added you only to make themselves appear more popular than they are.
You’re just a number to them. They will never respond to your CastleVille request, ogle the photographs from your 2009 Fiji vacation, and, most unforgivably, they have hidden you from their newsfeeds.

Most of your Facebook friends, therefore, are jerks who deserve to be screwed with. Here are some of my favorite ways…

1. Add friends to groups they don’t want to be a part of
Facebook wants you to screw with your Facebook friends. Otherwise, they would not have made it possible to add them to groups without their consent.
Depending on your personality, you can go cute (create a group called “Friends who don’t want to be added to my group”) or vile (the North American Man/Boy Love Association or Fans of Wham!)
After Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced this perplexing functionality in October 2010, by the way, someone added his name to a NAMBLA fan group. (It wasn’t me, I swear.)

2. Change your name and profile picture to match that of someone you dislike, then post damaging comments
Most people read only what’s on their newsfeeds, and when your updates appear there, they see only the name and photo of the person you claim to be.
Now is the time for that boss who fired you to come out of the closet, for the business partner who screwed you to announce his upcoming jail sentence, or maybe for the ex who dumped you to profess her dislike of Asian-Americans.

3. Check your friends into places they shouldn’t be
Facebook Places allows you to check in with a friend, the most generous gift a prankster has ever received from Facebook.

  • Looks like Pablo went to Déjà vu, the sex toy shop in Las Vegas.
  • Oops, what are you doing in rehab again, Roy?
  • Hey Jerry’s wife, why is your husband checking in at a divorce attorney?

4. Change your birthday
Because the date you emerged from your mother’s womb obviously changes so often, Facebook allows for regular modifications on your date of birth. So get born again. And again. Have a secret race to see which of your friends wishes you the most fake happy birthdays like an idiot, then recognize the winner in a note.

I celebrated seven birthdays on Facebook last year. Not one of them was actual. My Facebook birthdays drew wishes from 229 of my friends. Repeat offenders included my congresswoman, one of my best friends and my winner: A self-promoting New York musician who recognized a whopping six of my seven rebirthdays without a twinge of deja vu. Thanks, Andy Zwerling!

But I don’t feel bad.  Marking someone’s birthday should mean more than just scanning a list on the right side of your monitor and sending a message to everyone who qualifies (often the same message, cut-and-pasted).

5. Comment on threads that are more than three years old
Facebook’s replacement of our walls with “timelines” is a dubious improvement to the user, considering that the only people who care what we did during a particular month two years ago are law enforcement officers, nosy spouses and prospective employers. To pranksters like you and me, however, it’s a godsend because commenting on an old post generates confusion and paranoia.

  • Why is my “no longer listed as in a relationship” notification from 2008 back in the public eye? And if it’s not, why has this creepy guy ventured so deeply into my page? And why is he offering to comfort me while informing me that he drives a Porsche?

6. When a friend is stupid enough to say he’s on vacation, figure out where he lives and slide a note under his front door

  • “Awesome vacation photos!” it should read. “It looks like you had a wonderful time! Thanks for your hospitality. Sincerely, a grateful Facebook friend.”

7. Make them do your work for you
While writing this article, I posted a status update asking people to name their favorite ways to screw with their Facebook friends. One of the ideas you just read came from a friend who had no idea I was writing an article to which he would contribute without receiving credit or payment.

Corey Levitan is a humor columnist whose musings can be found at Friend him on Facebook at, if you like getting screwed with.

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