Facebook has been constantly swamped time and again with various app that go viral, some claiming to show you which of your friend likes you the most, while others promising to let you know when your ex has been stalking and spying on your profile. Or maybe, when your parents have been peeking into your private life. So the big question is, do they actually work? Just how much they’re worth their salt, you’ll get to know in a while. But the short answer isn’t yes or not. I’d prefer to go with not really. And there’s a good reason why. My recommendation is, don’t trust these apps. Here’s why.
The first pointer that lets you know whether an app is a scam or not is when someone in your friend list shares it with a message that reads something like;
OMG OMG!!!.. I can’t believe this actually works!! Now you really can see who views your profile!!! WHOA!!
This kind of a status update hints at unusual behavior. I usually know what sort of language someone in my friend list uses. And when I see a radical change in their style, I get wary.
Next, you know it’s definitely is a scam when the first thing an app wants you to do is ‘Like’ it and ‘Share’ it with all your friends. Now this is a defense mechanism used by such apps. Such measures that these scams don’t stop, and continue spreading. Most people don’t think much of this step, and just say as they are told. But we think this is the most important step.
For example, I have around 315 friends on Facebook (nothing to brag about). When I share such an app, 315 people will see it in their news feed. And even if 1% of my friends click on it and follow the steps, that means I spread the scam to three more people, who might spread it to three more, and so on. Hence, it’s a chain that could go on for a while, thanks to the ruthless marketing tactics used. Our reckoning is, if any app or service is worth its salt, it’ll prompt you to share it with your friends after you’ve used the service, and not before it. Even so, you should have the option of skipping that step. That way, if I choose to share that service, it’ll be a genuine recommendation.
The final trigger would be when the app asks for unusual access permissions, and take you to another website. Usually, apps that are legit ask for permissions such as posting on your behalf. But scam apps will ask you for more. Reading your friend data, your personal information, your likes, your statuses, and more. And if that app then takes you to another website after gaining permissions, I say run! Run away and never look back! This is most definitely a scam!
What these apps can do
These apps can do much more than post spammy posts on your behalf. Oh yes, a lot more! Most of them are phishing scams. Phishing means tricking you into giving away your sensitive account information, such as emails, passwords, and other privacy data you withhold from the public. In some cases, such information is sold in the underground, such as a politician’s or a celebrity’s private information they don’t want the public to know. In other cases, people get hacked and locked out of their accounts.
Is there no way to see profile views?
The simple answer is, no. According to Facebook itself, such a thing is “simply not possible on Facebook”. There is no way you can see who views your profile, since Facebook has provided no such functionality. Here is a video from a Facebook’s security engineer giving some tips on Facebook security.
You can, however, see how many people saw your profile. Again, don’t go for the traditional apps. The way to do this is, to add some sort of a counter on your profile which increments each time your profile is visited. You will first need to install an HTML or FBML box, which allows HTML code to be inserted into your profile. You can search for such an app on Facebook. Next, you’ll need code for a counter. You can get this at statcounter.com. We will publish a follow-up post which explains this procedure in more detail. This will allow you to see how many hits you got, but no more! There’s no way to tell who viewed your profile, despite what these apps might say.
Facebook, however, does allow you to track Analytics for your Facebook fan pages. Again, more on that in a later post.
How to deal with scam?
There’s nothing much you need to do about these scams. The important thing to remember about these apps is, once they go viral, it’s only a matter of time before Facebook catches them and shuts them down. So they have a limited time span in which to make their mark. And they do their best to utilize this time. Take the ‘Breakup notifier’ app, for instance. It was shut down long ago. But within two days, It had attracted around a million people wanting to know when their crush breaks up with someone!
What you need to do is, simply don’t click on such links! Learn how to spot a scam. Facebook can only do so much to protect you from scam and hack attempts. The rest, you’ll have to do yourself. Discourage people when you see them sharing such posts. And also, report it to Facebook. If many people bring a scam to Facebook’s notice, it’ll be shut down all the more quickly. If you found this information useful, then do spread the awareness by sharing this post on Facebook. And no, this isn’t part of a scam :). It’s your choice to share it or not, and there definitely are no underhand tricks involved here. You now know how to spot one. So stay safe, and stay happy :)