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Can You Really See Who Views Your Facebook Profile?

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 9/15/2019 Emily DiNuzzo
a close up of a man wearing sunglasses © Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

One of the most common questions people ask themselves about social media is, "who viewed my Facebook profile?" Of course, we want to know who interacts with our page and who might be doing a bit of snooping. But there's no legitimate way to tell who views your profile.

How to see who viewed your profile on Facebook

Facebook has had its fair share of privacy issues in the past, but one thing the company explicitly doesn't allow is for users to see who views their profile, according to their official policy. "Facebook's API does not grant developers access to such data, nor do they offer a feature or report for this natively on their website or mobile app," Reggie Filho, who works for the social media management platform Social Report, says. Not only is there no official built-in tool for this, but Lance Ulanoff, the Editor in Chief of Lifewire, says there's no safe or confirmed way to do this, either. It's one of many other Facebook "facts" that aren't true.

There are a few ways people claim you can check who visited your Facebook profile

Ulanoff and Filho warn that third-party apps claiming to give you a list of people who viewed your Facebook profile are bad news. For security and privacy, never download these apps—especially if they ask for passwords or other credentials. "They're most likely selling the data you just gave them access to, to a third party," Ulanoff says. This is data harvesting, and allowing access or permission to view your data also shares your friends' data, according to Alex Heid, the Chief Research and Development Officer at Security Scorecard. If this is a feature Facebook wanted, they would build it in, similarly to how LinkedIn allows premium members to see this info, according to Heid. So stay clear of apps that claim they can track this information and report such services to Facebook. And avoid taking Facebook quizzes for a similar reason.

There's another popular "hack" floating on the Internet claiming to show who visited your Facebook profile. The method involves looking at the "view page source" code and searching for "InitialChatFriendsList." Doing this reveals profile numbers, but there's no way to confirm that these numbers and accounts actually represent people who visited your profile, according to Ulanoff. And there's no hard data from Facebook to check this against, Filho adds. These numbers could be people you already connect with or people you frequently chat with on Facebook Messenger, Ulanoff says. "In fact, the data derived from the source code method renders a list identical to the conversations list you may find on your profile's right sidebar," Filho says. But how to see who follows you on Facebook is possible.

Why doesn't Facebook let you see who viewed your profile?

So there's no official way to tell who views your Facebook profile, and the main reason why is privacy. "It would be a PR nightmare for Facebook if there was a way for non-friends to view your page and for users to know about it," says Andrew Selepak, PhD, the director of the graduate program in social media at the University of Florida. "We all look up friends, former friends, exes, and coworkers on Facebook, and we don't want users to know when we look up their page." If this was possible, there's a chance people would spend less time on the site and thus hurt Facebook's revenue, Dr. Selepak says. But there are some Facebook secrets that the site does want you to know.

Related video: Why you may need to change your Facebook password [via USA TODAY]

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