Can You See Who's Viewing Your Facebook Profile?

Categories: internets
DearAnnaWeb.jpg

I have a question about those Facebook applications that promise to show you who visits your page and how frequently; do they actually work? Because stalking people on FB is like a part-time job for me and I love it and I don't want that known to the world, you know?

~Lock, Stalk & Barrel


Just like the great "WTF Justin Bieber gets an erection in a public interview lol" letdown of 2010, Facebook apps that claim to show you who's stalking you are too good to be true. A quick search on Facebook's FAQ proves that such applications explicitly violate their Terms of Use:

"Can I know who's viewing my profile or how often it's being viewed?

No, Facebook does not provide the ability to track who is viewing your profile, or parts of your profile, such as your photos. Applications by outside developers cannot provide this functionality, either. Applications that claim to give you this ability will be removed from Facebook for violating policy."

Some apps, like the now defunct Fan Check, show you who your "top fans" are, based on how many times a friend comments on or likes your junk, but it's all based on public information, not who is lurking on your page without leaving any virtual marks. It makes sense, really. If we all knew who was stalking us, we'd be much less likely to interact with people's profiles on Facebook, and its value as a social tool would decrease, then I wouldn't get to talk so much about Facebook's tool, and the world would be a sadder place, generally.

So why do scams like ProfileWatcher, ProfileSpy, MyFacebookStalker, and ePrivacy persist in their claims to know who's keeping tabs on your life? Well, partly it's our own damn fault because as soon as we allow scammy, third-party apps access to our info, our profiles are automatically updated with a link and a status that says something like:

"OMG OMG OMG ... I can't believe this actually works! Now you really can see who viewed your profile!"
Despite every ounce of common sense we have in our non-electronic lives that tells us there is no way our great aunt Cecilia would use the phrase "OMG" let alone three times in a row, we're still, for some reason, compelled to click on the link. Around 60,000 Facebook users fell for the OMG scam back in November.

In order to find out a little more about these scams, I reached out to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant from the Net security firm Sophos. He told me via email that Facebook is taking legal action against some of the folks they believe to be behind these scams, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

AP: What actually happens if you are scammed? Do these apps do something with your data? Will they have access to your info forever or just until you remove the app?

GC: Most of these scams are designed to earn money for the scammers by earning a slice of cash each time you complete an online survey.  Some of them also ask you for your cell phone number and then sign you up for an expensive subscription that you may not notice until you come around to paying the bill.
The rogue application you give permission to access your profile can post to your Facebook page (thus spreading the scam virally to your friends and colleagues) but it also means that it can peruse other aspects of your profile.  So there is the potential for some personal information to be stolen (however, as far as we have seen, most of these scams concentrate on earning money through the surveys).
Once you've removed the app they won't be able to access your info.  But, of course, by the time you've removed the app it may be too late.

AP: Why doesn't Facebook catch these obvious scams?

GC: It's surprising isn't it?  Especially as some are clearly very, very similar to ones that have gone before.  I've lost count of the number of times I've seen "girl killed herself after her dad posted to her Facebook wall."
My feeling is that they're not putting enough technology and manpower into fighting the nuisance. Maybe it's not a big priority for them?  If so, that's a big shame - as it certainly makes Facebook a less fun place to be.

AP: You'd think there'd be some type of application approval process or something. Any idea how long it takes FB to wise up and remove the rogue apps?

GC: I agree. I think Facebook should follow Apple's example and only allow *approved* apps to be distributed, as I wrote about here
We inform Facebook of many of the scams and rogue apps that we see, and some of them get closed down within a matter of hours. Others, however, appear to keep on causing problems for days or weeks. I certainly don't get the feeling that Facebook is running a round-the-clock operation stamping out these attacks, as we normally only hear back in Pacific time - which can be after tens of thousands of Facebook users have been affected.

There you have it, folks. I'm not going to tell you to be less stupid in the future, because I just voluntarily watched The Bachelor premiere and hence feel that would be hypocritical, but I will say this: think before you link! Oh, and don't ask me to tell you what color bra I'm wearing either. I don't care if you think it'll cure cancer. 

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at AskAnnaSF@gmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @SFWeekly 

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55 comments
magicfondon
magicfondon

I would like to know whos been lookin on my face book

Carol
Carol

There is one that actually works.. check it out at http://TheProfileTracker.com You can see who is viewing your Facebook profile and who is checking out your Twitter account.

Viral Videos
Viral Videos

I'm glad you were able to clear this up!!

Slamber5769
Slamber5769

Something interesting that I discovered - If you type aa into your facebook search (where you search for people) it will show you the person that YOU search for most, even if they dont have an a in their name at all. Thought it was neat...

Nisha Verma
Nisha Verma

SEARCH   ON  GÖÖGLE  ---  HDPIXELS.NET

Bud
Bud

The grammer used in these comments makes me want to puke! Our country is DOOMED!

Gabrielpb87
Gabrielpb87

I remember in the days of Hi5, they had the option of letting you decide if you wanted other people to know that you had viewed their profile. It was set by default on "allow" but you could change it by accessing the settings. I think giving at least the option to people would be good. 

Johnny Bocchetti
Johnny Bocchetti

If your facebook privacy settings are open to the world, like letting anybody with a facebook account view your stuff, you will see who is visiting your profile. How, just by seeing who you might know list. Lots of times I've seen people that are not remotely in my facebook network showing up on that list. I even had some people tell me that they were checking it out!

Only if your setting are open, open, open to the wider world. I want the world to see me and all my impefections...that's how i roll the dice!!

Gecci
Gecci

 I put my cell phone number in one but when the survey began I exited out, will it still have my number saved?!

Lumbago
Lumbago

set your settings on private, and you wont worry anymore whos viewing your profile, only your friends can see it 

Jigar Pandya ™
Jigar Pandya ™

It's important to bring things like this to light. When thinking about security on Facebook, people tend to worry more about who is viewing their profile or trying to add them, people don't think about what's happening behind the scenes. When entering into a social network site people tend to think of whats on the surface, like the connection with friends, the social aspect of it, not many are aware of what lurks behind all of the applications and games made available to us. 

Lyhnmangconsay
Lyhnmangconsay

i want to see who is looking on my profile...but i dnt know how?been trying and trying

Franko2012
Franko2012

how do i find out who is viewing my profile?

Paul
Paul

I found a WebSite that allows you to see who has viewed your facebook, Its a Paid site but you can here is the url http://whoviewsyourfacebook.fi... I have not used it my self

ankara evden eve nakliyat
ankara evden eve nakliyat

A beautiful and highquality information.this paper is accurate to be useful. Thanks to the author.

Flamefever
Flamefever

Anna, I like your spunk!  :) Great reading experience!

Ramona Fuller
Ramona Fuller

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Nathaniel2nd
Nathaniel2nd

let me just say you are not correct. there is a virtual world called imvu one in which you are abl eto see who visits you rprofile page whether they leave a comment or not. It does not stop the socializing aspect of imvu. this is not somethign that will stop people from interacting on facebook. it is however somethoing that will stop people with restraining orders from contacting there baby mommas. its a good thing.

David Wishengrad
David Wishengrad

"I agree. I think Facebook should follow Apple's example and only allow *approved* apps to be distributed"I think that is a childish view. Choice, expression and creativity come first. You have a lot to learn about truly respecting people.

Oshanterriamerritt
Oshanterriamerritt

lame lame and jst because ppl viewing ur pg dat dosent mean dae a stalker but execpt for predotors a grown person or sum LIKE DAT

Alex769worl
Alex769worl

Just like 5 mins ago there was an update on my wall..... this new app from facebook, that lets you see who and how many times a person checks another person's profile. So the girl saw I view her profile over 100 times. Feel like such a crepper.......

Steve_heiser
Steve_heiser

I have a question than, how would you know rather or not a persoin is stalking you on facebook?

Amanda Nonya
Amanda Nonya

They basically "trust" developers to abide by their written rules, this just screams for everyone to come and scam our users! If you open yourself up to letting people just use your API's without any kind of approval process, well then I guess you get what you deserve. So many mistakes made, you would think that they would have learned something by now. It's like a bunch of 12 year olds are making the decisions. Other websites like AutumnsList lets people make apps that can be used on users profile pages, but they have a different, safer system. By the way they do have an app that lets you see the last 5 people who visited your profile page! and they also show you how many people have visited your profile page right on your profile page, kinda like myspace used to or still does, sorry haven't been on there in ages. Anyways the way they are running that site, I give it another year or less before people get sick and tired of the b.s. and move on!

Sally
Sally

Thank you, Anna! I ran across your blog looking for this exact answer as I am always wary of these kind of claims on my friends' posts. You may have even solved a mystery for a friend of mine that recieved 3 magazine subscriptions he never signed up for. Great advice! Your blog is now in my favorites!

Los Angeles Website Designers
Los Angeles Website Designers

Supposedly when facebook did the accidental update of the new profiles in december, when we got to see a preview of the larger profile picture, they had build in a function to see who viewed your profile... so I hope we get that functionally soon!

gabi_bebule
gabi_bebule

you must to pay to have this program

guest
guest

How ironic, Bud.  You spelled grammar incorrectly. LMFAO!

Vishal
Vishal

Yes, most of the people without knowing what a click on a link or acceptance to allow 'personal info' can do to their account just simply like to do so.

Cob
Cob

How ironic. A post about avoiding scams has gotten one of its own.

MIKE
MIKE

Get some english lessons, yeah?

Adffd
Adffd

you are an idiot

michaela lopez
michaela lopez

this weekend was fun because i got hang out with my friends reply back

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