Have you heard about the lady who’s stalking everyone on Facebook?
A new viral conspiracy theory going around Facebook is warning users about a woman by the name of Selene Delgado Lopez. According to the posts, Selene is friends with you on Facebook. Did you add her? Of course not. You don’t know her. But, apparently, she’s your Facebook friend anyway. Don’t worry, it’s a hoax. She’s not really on your Facebook friends list. Let’s break it down…
What, exactly, is the Selene Delgado Lopez hoax?
Two days ago, I first became aware of Selene Delgado Lopez when an old friend from high school shared a post warning other Facebook users about the account. Then I saw another old acquaintance share a similar post. Then another.
The gist of the hoax is basically this: Selene Delgado Lopez is, for some weird reason, on everyone’s Facebook friends list. This means different things to different people. Maybe you don’t care. Or maybe your Facebook friends list is very personal and you do care! You can change your Facebook settings so only your friends can see certain posts. Who, then, is this stranger sneaking into your trusted circle and spying on you?
Look up Selene Delgado Lopez on Facebook… yes you’re friends… yeah idk why either. Block that creep. You’re welcome.
— 5’22” | BLM (@realdeahl) September 3, 2020
A majority of the most viral posts about Selena Delgado Lopez are in Spanish. It appears the hoax started within Spanish-language Facebook communities, mostly from accounts with their location set in Mexico or Latin American countries. At some point in early September, the conspiracy made the jump to English-speaking Facebook users and it’s continued to spread since. It’s unclear exactly where the hoax originated, or why it started at all.
I’ve seen dozens of Facebook posts from users sharing the news of Selene, this woman they don’t know who they’re apparently friends with on the social networking site. A single post about her account from any random Facebook user can seemingly rack up hundreds of shares.
my bf just showed me a fb post that everyone is friends with a woman named selene delgado lopez and you can’t unfriend her u have to block,,,,
y’all i am scared
— josie sells $2 amiibos! 🤪👀📌 (@josie_ferngrove) September 2, 2020
But! This account isn’t actually your Facebook friend. Here’s how you can tell. Click on the Friends tab on your Facebook profile. On that page, there’s a search bar where you can find every single person you’re friends with. Try typing Selene Delgado Lopez’s name. She’s not there. (It’s also technically impossible for any one Facebook profile account to be friends with more than 5,000 users, so this account can’t be friends with everyone on the site!)
Regardless, the hoax continues to spread. If you look at the Selene Delgado Lopez account that everyone claims is following them, you’ll find more than 17,000 shares of her . YouTube videos speculating about Selene’s account have racked up of , spreading urban legends and ghost stories, including questions about whether Selene ever existed at all.
Who, then, is Selene Delgado Lopez?
Decades ago, Mexican TV network Canal 5 used to run a missing persons segment in between shows. For unknown reasons, some of the channel’s viewers became fixated on one particular missing person: Selene Delgado Lopez.
You can view that Canal 5 segment here:
Fast forward to 2020. Earlier this year, Canal 5 started posting weird, creepy videos on its Twitter account around 3 a.m. each morning. A few hours later, the tweets would be removed from the account. This was basically a clever marketing campaign that resulted in the station becoming a trending topic on Twitter.
According to a video from , a popular YouTube channel that breaks down urban legends, one of the tweets posted by the Canal 5 account mentioned the name Selene. Canal 5 viewers immediately recalled the Selene Delgado Lopez urban legend.
Around this time, a slew of Selene Delgado Lopez profiles were created on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, all using the same photo. The picture is much more recent and depicts a woman older than the missing persons photo of Selene from the Canal 5 segment. (It’s unclear who the woman in the photo actually is.) Nevertheless, dozens of these social media accounts are using this same photo. Clearly, most, if not all, of these are fake profiles.
Why does it appear that Selene is your Facebook friend?
It’s simple. One of the Selene accounts — the one that has now gone viral — has the friend request button disabled in their Facebook privacy settings. Typically, you’d choose this setting if you don’t want just anyone to try to friend you on the platform. They’d have to message you first, and you’d have to send the request to them if you wanted to be friends on Facebook.
So like did everyone get dumb or something over night because everyone on fb is “freaking out” thinking they have Selene Delgado Lopez added on fb when in actuality she has her Add option turned off and they think seeing Message on her page means they’re already friends with her
— ♏︎𝒶𝒹𝒶𝓁𝓎𝓃 (@maadyhell0) September 2, 2020
If you don’t know about these privacy settings, a Facebook profile page like this fake Selene account looks a lot like someone you’re friends with. The friend request button is removed, replaced by the button to send a Facebook user a message.
What’s the point of the hoax?
This entire conspiracy is based on a random urban legend-inspired fake Facebook profile. Throw in Facebook’s confusing privacy settings and the technological illiteracy of the general public, and you have yourself the making of a viral social media hoax.
Is this the work of a very successful troll? An inside joke between friends that spiraled out of control? It’s unclear, and we may never know. It can be impossible to track some of these online hoaxes, because many of them tend to start in private groups and communities.
The whole thing feels reminiscent of last year’s big viral social media hoax, the , in which viral posts claimed a bird woman-like monster was texting teens and dare them to self-harm. This, as you can guess, is a thing that wasn’t really happening.
A creepy photo goes viral within Spanish-language communities on Facebook. An urban legend gets attached to it. YouTubers spread the story. The hoax then jumps to the broader U.S. public on Facebook and goes even more viral. The only thing missing from the Selene Delgado Lopez hoax: the online challenge element Momo had, daring teens to hurt themselves, which freaked out parents across the country.
Honestly, though, in a year full of coronavirus misinformation and QAnon conspiracy theories, a classic internet hoax like this one feels like a breath of fresh air. The stakes are so low. The conspiracy is so innocent in nature. (Oh, someone you don’t know and didn’t friend on Facebook is actually friends with you on Facebook? Oh no!)
But we can still learn the same moral that pervades most of these stories: We badly need to educate people about technology so they stop falling for ridiculous fake news, conspiracy theories, and viral hoaxes.