On a site like Facebook we are all given our own little corner on the web, adorned with our photos, thoughts, plans, updates, preferences and plenty of other personal information. And of course it is obviously an appealing notion to know who takes an interest in it.
It’s human nature after all. Who is inspecting and scrutinising your life, secretly, when you can’t see . Who is checking up on you, and how often.
You could see how often your parents or spouse monitor your past activities and furture plans. Or find out if any old schoolmates are reading up and comparing your life developments. Or perhaps, most obviously, discover if you have any potential secret admirers.
It would most definitely be a feature almost every Facebook user would use, and it is certainly a feature that plenty of websites and Facebook applications assert to offer. You’ve probably seen several float around your newsfeed over the years – exciting claims that you are now able to check who “stalks” or “peeks” on your profile, and how often.
However the feature is non-existent. Despite the popular and persistent claims, the ability to track who visits your Facebook profile (timeline) is simply impossible.
And of course, even though it would be a feature that we too would most certainly utilise, it should indeed be impossible to track such activity. Just imagine if you were the curious parent, the old schoolmate or the secret admirer. Would you want those online surfing “habits” made public?
Probably not. In fact, introducing such a feature and taking away our ability to creep around Facebook silently like church mice would most likely make us all turn into paranoid Facebook-recluses.
“Is this dude gonna think I’m weird for looking at his profile twice this week?”
“If I look at her photos again will she think I’m stalking her?”
And no social networking site is going to want that to happen.
So this is worth remembering the next time you see that message floating around Facebook claiming it can track who visits your timeline. These messages invariably lead users to various online scams, such as
– Survey scams that trick users into parting with personal information.
– Rogue Facebook applications that will post spam messages from your account.
– Malware scams that will trick users into downloading malware and malicious browser extensions onto your computer.
And it is also worth being aware that rogue Facebook applications that use these fake profile checker assertions can – upon installation – post photos from a user’s account and tag their friends in them, which helps the scam circulate. Such photos can assert to show recent profile views, or show a user’s top “stalkers” or similar, like the photo on the right which shows one such photo from an earlier scam. More about that here.
On a side note, it is worth remembering that public interaction, and by this we mean interaction that a Facebook user is aware of, such as comments, likes and shares (not profile views) can be measured and quantified to produce a user’s “top friends” or “top fans”. In fact this method of interaction is often used by fake “stalker” Facebook apps to give the illusion that they are correctly providing a user with those users who check a profile the most (and some Facebook apps actually merely provide a random selection of friends and dress them up as a user’s “top stalkers”).
And whilst we wait for Facebook to be at least remotely successful at cracking down on these prolific profile checker scams, don’t be fooled by them. Not only do they not exist, but the feature is also against Facebook’s own terms of service. So no third-party Facebook developer, nor Facebook themselves, are going to be creating an application or service that can provide this information.