Facebook wants to be clear: Those apps that promise to let you know who is looking at your profile do not really work.
To answer the questions many of his Stafford County constituents had about their online privacy, U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman, (R.-Va.), invited a representative from Facebook to brief residents on the social media site's security.
What Facebook's spokesperson told the audience at an Online Safety Forum on Monday may not be reassuring.
Potomac Local reported:
One of the most common questions of the evening: What about the posts that say 'see who’s been viewing your Facebook profile'?
“Those are always scams. We will never make that option possible, and no one will ever know who’s been looking at your page,” said Facebook spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter. “This isn’t MySpace, people; we have standards.”
Anonymous stalking guaranteed? Not exactly reassuring.
In the days when MySpace was once the cutting-edge of online living, users were able to write in codes on their personal pages that would allow them to see who was watching them.
But in the Facebook era, no such tracking is possible. Those apps that offer to track your profile's page clicks are phishing scams trying to grab your personal information. Often, they will just randomly spit out names of people grabbed from your friends list.
Facebook has addressed the question of anti-stalker apps on their website:
"Facebook does not approve applications or groups with the technical means to allow people to track profile views or see statistics on how often a particular piece of content has been viewed and by whom. If an application claims to provide this functionality, please report the application by going to the application’s About page and clicking "Report Application" at the bottom of the page, or by clicking "Report" at the bottom of any canvas page within the application."
With incidents of web-based voyeurism on the rise, Facebook users are understandably concerned about finding out who has been checking them out. Virginia Tech recently revised its definition of sexual misconduct to include cyberstalking.
The bottom line: There are ways to limit the looks you're getting online, but by signing up for Facebook, you are voluntarily opting in to a network for sharing your personal information.
At the meeting, Oberwetter advised Stafford residents to stay away from purely cyber relationships on Facebook, and limit communications to people they know in real life. You can adjust your privacy settings, and limit how much you share. For more information on controlling your online profile, check out this tip sheet from tech site Mashable.