A few weeks ago my Facebook account got 50 extra friends overnight. I went to sleep with 998 friends and woke up to 1,048. I didn't acquire them through sleep-clicking or a drunken Facebook friend request spree. I just became more popular overnight. I looked through all my friends but didn't notice anyone odd or new.
Other people reported similar additions in their status updates: Beverly posted: "I'm plus 20 friends in my total friend tally. Who are you people?" Dirk wrote: "Everyone above 3,000 friends got an extra 100-300 new friends added to their total count last week. What's up with that?"
This morning Tomas posted asking for info on how to mass-defriend people. He had 300 new mystery friends, putting him above 5,000 friends. Now he could no longer add friends. He was in Facebook friending jail.
In this social media age where people's self-esteem and self-worth is based on number of friends, followers, likes, comments and retweets, this is important stuff.
Is the Facebook invasion of invisible friends like that sneaky change in fashion when a size 12 miraculously became an 8 to stroke our egos? Is this similar to grade inflation that exists at Ivy League schools where it's unheard of to get a grade lower than a B-? No one pays $100,000 a year to get a C. Is Facebook padding our bras with extra friends?
I asked someone at a social media agency if they knew what caused the sudden changes in friend numbers. No dice. I asked my company's social media expert. Nada. I asked someone who worked at Facebook. No answer.
I posed my question to the social media gurus on Facebook's nemesis, Twitter. @SocialMediaF answered that his agency hadn't heard about this but wondered if there was a blog about it. But he's in the U.K. This could be an American issue, just like our uniquely American phenomena of deflated dress sizes and inflated grades.
Then Tomas' friend Kevin posted two rumors which could explain the friend uptick. The first was that Facebook recently increased maximum friend counts to above 5,000. I asked Facebook devotees with 5,000-plus friends, but they still couldn't add anyone new: rumor dispelled. The second rumor was that Facebook reactivated deactive accounts after the IPO price drop to juice the numbers, a less insidious form of Enron behavior.
Maybe I really did get more popular overnight. New friends, where were you when I was in high school? With your support I could have been the prom queen.
Follow Joanna Popper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Joanna Popper