Who's Viewing Your Facebook? Scammers If You Allow A Bad App
Over the last few days I've seen lots of my friends tagged in photos related to an app that claims to show "your Facebook stalkers." This isn't really too unusual. Over the last several years there have been lots of apps that claim to provide this ability. I've generally ignored these along with the sensational headlines of other apps (sexiest video ever and new teacher from behind are just a couple reported by Sophos).
The number of instances where my friends have been tagged in these photos has increased tremendously in the last 24 hours. I'm not going to attempt to analyze how this increase is being accomplished, but I wanted to share a few insights that will help protect you from these scams in the future.
Yeah, scams. Facebook is very clear that they do not provide a method for determining who has viewed your profile. Here's what they have to say regarding this question:
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. You can report applications that provide untrustworthy experiences by clicking the "Report Application" at the bottom of the application’s About page, or by clicking "Report" at the bottom of any canvas page within the application.
That makes it real plain that any application that is offering this service is only attempting to harvest your personal information and trying to get your friends to do the same thing.
That might seem relatively harmless, but stop and think about the information that is probably posted on your Facebook page. Names of your family members, your place of employment, pictures of your family, what schools you attended. All this data and more could be listed in your profile.
How can you protect yourself? Rule number 1 on the internet is to never click on links you don't trust, so don't trust any links on Facebook that say they'll tell you who's been viewing your profile. Never allow any application you don't trust to view your Facebook data. Next time you see a request for permission and you aren't 100% sure the application asking can be trusted, just say no. It will protect you and your friends from being exposed to that app.
You might not be able to find out who's been viewing your profile, but you can still protect yourself from Facebook creepers. One option is to manage your privacy by group (one for co-workers, family, friends from high school, etc.). This takes a lot of time, so you may just want to avoid friending people you don't want to connect with on Facebook.
Be sure to check your privacy settings to manage what is visible to your friends, and set any information you don't want to share to private.
A final additional step for any AppRiver customers that are using SecureSurf for web protection. You can add "apps.facebook.com" to your blocked list and this will prevent any applications within Facebook from being accessed by your users. That's assuming that you don't want to block all of Facebook, which I'll be talking about in the next few weeks.
Shane Rice works at AppRiver as a Services Evangelist.