Can you see who viewed your Facebook profile? Scammers would like you to think so

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks, Spam

Who's viewing your Facebook profile?
Earlier this year I blogged about how scammers were abusing Facebook users' curiousity about who might be viewing their profile. Surprise surprise, they're at it again.

Right now we're seeing messages spreading across Facebook claiming to have found a way to allow you to sneakily tell who has been looking at your profile. And it's no shock to see that many people are intrigued as to who might be checking them out online (maybe it's a secret admirer? or an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend? or a prospective employer?), and clicking on the link.

A typical message reads:

See who viewed your profilee original version 2.0:
now you can see who viewed your facebook profile
<LINK>

However, this is not new legitimate functionality that Facebook has built into its social network. Instead, if you click on the link you are taken to a third-party website which (to the untrained eye) may at first glance appear to still be on the real Facebook site, but is in fact designed to trick you into sharing their link further.

As we've seen in the past in connection with other scams, the page encourages you to "Like" it and "share" it numerous times before it will hand over the ability to has viewed your Facebook profile.

This should, frankly, be enough to trigger your suspicions and have you rapidly retreating. But, it appears, many Facebook users have fallen for the scam and have helped the unknown perpetrators spread their links far and wide.

Scams like this don't need to exploit security vulnerabilities in Facebook's code - all they need to do is socially engineer users into making poor decisions. In this case, the desire to see who might be investigating you on Facebook might be enough to convince you to share and endorse a link to your other online friends. And in this way you are spreading the link virally across the network.

Facebook user tricked into sharing link

Remember, functionality does not exist in Facebook to allow you to find out who has viewed your profile. So many people are being tricked into believing that it might be possible, that Facebook has had to include a firm denial in its FAQ.

Facebook FAQ

Oh, and if you're still wondering, I never managed to find out who had been viewing my Facebook profile..

Ultimately you have to have your wits about you to avoid scams like this. If you or your friends keep falling for these sort of confidence tricks, or want to learn more about security threats, don't forget you can join the Sophos page on Facebook.

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17 Responses to Can you see who viewed your Facebook profile? Scammers would like you to think so

  1. Kelly · 1360 days ago

    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.

  2. Nicole · 1346 days ago

    I've heard that one way to (sort of) keep track of who visits your profile is by checking out the friends that automatially load onto the side of your profile. You would think it would just load random friends each time you refresh the page, right? Well, not necessarily. If you refresh the page several times, the same faces keep popping up, and the theory is that these are the people who have viewed your profile recently. It may also just be the people you interact most with on Facebook, because when I refresh my profile, several of my close friends seem to be inevitably in the list. It seems plausible to me. Let me know what you think?

    • fang · 1298 days ago

      i kind of agree with you because when i'm tagged in a photo or people i interact with always constantly show up on my wall.

      • Jessica · 1210 days ago

        I thought the same thing- definitely noticed a pattern I just wanted to confirm it but this is the only spot I actually found where someone had the same theory as me!

    • Bethany · 1160 days ago

      I actually searched the FB help center a few weeks ago to find out who is chosen for the sidebar, and the official answer is that it's mostly who you often interact with PUBLICLY, and also a few people chosen at random. So, if you often write on a friend's wall or they write on yours, often "like" or comment on someone's links/photos, or exchange any public actions that others can already see (actions that aren't hidden by your privacy settings), it will show those people on your sidebar. But it DOES NOT show the people whose pages you view the most or people you send private messages to. Which is good, since I was worried for a little while that FB was showing the people whose profiles I visited the most...lol :) It keeps you from being embarrassed; the friends you publicly interact with the most are probably some of your closer friends anyway (or at least the more interesting ones), and if everyone could see who was viewing their profiles, we'd probably all be a little nervous to check out our friends' new statuses or pictures!

    • Scott · 807 days ago

      Really? You care which of *your friends* visits your profile? I'm more interested in what non-friends have tried to covertly mine my information.

    • RuthAnn · 322 days ago

      The pictures that automatically load up are the friends on your list most recently logged into FB, not who has viewed your profile!

  3. Cathy · 1205 days ago

    Security on facebook? Ha - that's an oxymoron. It's so unsecure - it's ridiculous. It's a free site. How secure do you facebook zombies think it is? Even sites you pay for are not secure. But FB has got to be the least. Security on facebook. HaHa. That's a good one.

  4. James · 1204 days ago

    I'm very glad all of this Who can see me stuff is a Scam. Besides there is nothing about me that is so unusual that anyone would want to see. I am Uncommonly Common and a very easily forgettable person. Most people who meet me within a minute later have forgotten my name and could not pick me out in a photo any where in the world.

    • mambo · 75 days ago

      Oh come on Jamie dude.. I feel like vising your profile now.... and will never forget your name

  5. Dudehead · 1189 days ago

    I was told that sidebar that listed friends showed friends that had viewed your page most recently

  6. Phil · 865 days ago

    My Question is there any reason why FB doesnt allow you to see who has viewed your profile seeing as the technology to do so is readily available ie Plenty of fish allows you to see who has viewed your profile.

    It couldn't be as a matter of security FB has proven time and again htey don't care about that.

    just got me wondering that's all, but then again I'm glad it doesn't cause I could imagine ev3eryones paranoia levels going haywire, spose that might be the reason lol

  7. nobodysfool · 844 days ago

    I figured it was a scam when it was sent to the (AOL)email I don't use for FB.

  8. JAYANTI SARANGPANI · 843 days ago

    I was told that sidebar that listed friends showed friends that had viewed your page most recently

  9. carlos melo · 505 days ago

    i dont like ppl looking at my facebook

  10. bhushan · 434 days ago

    tell me the process in short how will i view the list of visitor who has visited on my facebook

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.