Tag Archives: Social network

Facebook “check out your profile stalkers” scam

For what seems like the millionth time, a scam has made the rounds on Facebook purporting to reveal to users who has viewed their profiles, only to turn out to be yet another in a long line of malware attacks. Here’s the text of the wall post:

“OMG! Its unbelievable now you can get to know who views your profile. I can see my top profile visitors and I am so shocked that my ex is still creeping my profile every hour.”

If you click on it, it tells you to paste a line of code into the URL field…you know what? I’m not even going to go into it. Suffice it to say that it perpetuates the scam.

Here’s the thing: there is no way to see who has viewed your Facebook profile. There’s never going to BE a way to see who has viewed your Facebook profile. OMG! I KNOW, RIGHT?!

Here are the key takeaways from this information:

  • If you see a wall post claiming to link to an application or website that shows you who has viewed your profile, don’t even stop to wonder if it’s real. It’s not. It never has been, and it never will be.
  • You don’t NEED to see who has viewed your profile. What are you really going to do with that information? If you answer that question honestly, it’s “nothing positive.”
  • You also don’t NEED to see that, no, your ex is totally NOT “creeping” your profile “every hour,” because he actually couldn’t care less what you’re up to anymore. Just enjoy the (more than a little conceited) assumption that he’s pining for you, unable to sleep or eat, scrawling tortured poetry in a black notebook under a bare 40-watt light bulb. If that’s what it takes to get you through the day.
  • If you’re still worried about who is looking at your profile, set it to “private” already.
  • If you’re still still worried about who is looking at your profile, click the little X in the upper right corner of the screen (or wherever the X is on a Mac), shut down the computer completely and stand up. Put on some shoes. Now, walk out the front door of your house and look around. Go for a run. Or a walk. Or drive to the library. Call someone on the phone and talk. Arrange to meet and do something together. Repeat daily until you no longer care who is looking at your Facebook profile.

Online privacy vs. the need to share

I’ve been on the fence about social networking lately. To what extent does it allow us to connect, reconnect and share, and to what extent does it give far too many third parties access to our personal lives?

And when I say “social networking,” let’s have it out in the open: that means Facebook. I mean, it’s possible to overshare on Twitter, but most tweets amount to inane babble that doesn’t reveal much about anything. It’s possible to overshare on MySpace, but that would require people to still be using MySpace when, in general, they’re not. It’s all about the Facebook these days.

Sure, Facebook can be fun. You can find people you haven’t seen in years. Share photos. Make flippant remarks about everything (this is mostly what I do there).

But I think the company is cocky sometimes. They have been guilty of assuming that, just because you want to share a photo with your friends, you automatically want to share it with literally every single person (and company) with an Internet connection. I also heard they were predicting 750 million, then 1 billion, users before too long, after they hit 500 million. Sorry. It isn’t going to happen. Facebook has been the king for a few years, but if there’s one rule on the Internet, it’s that nothing lasts forever. Unless you’re Google, apparently. I digress.

If you still want to use Facebook rather than be an early un-adopter and delete your account, I think it’s okay to do so, but you have to keep a few things in mind. You can’t just click everything that shows up on your screen.

Privacy Settings

Check your privacy settings every now and then. The safest method is to set everything on “Friends Only.” That mostly locks other people out, as far as viewing your photos and reading what you post.

Whenever Facebook introduces a new feature, new layout, or other big changes, it’s a good idea to re-check your privacy settings. In the past, “new look” usually meant “we changed all your settings back to the default, which is everybody in the universe can see everything you post.” A major update just came out, or is about to; I can’t even tell anymore. At any rate, check your settings regularly, just to make sure.

Regardless of settings, your name, location and profile photo are still visible, though. Keep that in mind. Also, if you use any “Facebook apps” (games, etc.), the publishers of those can also access your information. Which brings us to…

Applications/Games

Here’s the short version: just don’t do it. Farmville. Mafia Wars. Happy Aquarium. Farm Wars. Happy Mafia. Whatever. Just avoid them.

See, the problem with these applications is that they are created by third-party vendors, not Facebook itself. While Facebook has a privacy policy in place with regards to your information (bad PR pretty much forced their hand), these other companies might be a little more…free…with your info. It’s better to keep a tighter watch on who has your data.

Plus, these games are just a massive waste of time. You can’t tell me those hours wouldn’t be better spent away from your computer.

Other Things You Can Click On But Shouldn’t

It’s not all just apps and games on Facebook, either. There are always a million things showing up in your friends’ status feeds, often with accompanying links.

Here’s your first rule: there is no app that will tell you who has viewed your profile. It doesn’t exist. There are, however, scams that use this promise to give crooks access to your profile.

Here’s another one: any combination of words like “OMG,” “this really works,” “five things,” or scandalous videos depicting a celebrity currently huge with teenagers (Justin Beiber is the soup du jour), is not going to lead you to what it says it will lead you to. It’s called “likejacking,” and I’ve written about it before.

One more: your friend is not stranded in London, having been mugged. Someone has hacked his account and is trying to get you to wire money overseas.

Basically, if you’re using Facebook for anything beyond connecting with friends, you’re opening your information up to third parties. Some of them just want to advertise to you. Others want to steal from you.

Okay, it’s probably okay to “like” your favorite band’s official page in order to stay updated on new releases and tour dates. And it was funny when that pickle got more fans than Nickelback.

But, really, is all of this necessary? My goal would be to spend less time on Facebook, not more. I started using the Internet in 1995, and I’ll be honest: I’ve gained some weight over those 15 years. I can’t help but wonder if I’d be more fit now if I’d done more face-to-face social networking, and less BBQ-potato-chip-to-face social networking while sitting in front of a computer screen.