Reader(s) Question: Who Has Viewed My Facebook Profile?

Back in March 2010, I wrote a post called Beware of “Who Viewed My Profile” Apps on Facebook. It’s still one of my top five viewed posts, with more than 4,400 page views in the past month alone. So it’s obviously a topic of great interest to people.

What’s odd is that even though the article clearly states that there are no applications available that let you see who viewed your profile, many of its readers still post comments asking who can view their profile. And rarely does a week go by that I don’t also receive that question on the T4L Facebook page and via email.

Maybe people think something has changed in the last three years. So let me be clear: There is NO way for you to find out who has viewed your profile on Facebook. Here is Facebook’s response to this question in their Help Center.

Can I know who’s looking at my timeline or how often it’s being viewed?

No, Facebook doesn’t let you track who views your timeline or your posts (ex: your photos). Third party apps also can’t provide this functionality.

If you come across an app that claims to offer this ability, please report the app.

Every once in a while I also get a comment from someone that they have proof that Facebook does provide this functionality because they looked at someone’s profile and then got a message or friend request from that person. I never see the specific evidence they’re referring to, so I can’t comment on what they think they’re seeing. I think it’s possible that if you look at someone’s profile a lot, your name will show up a lot more in places like the ticker or mutual friends’ lists, but that’s a far cry from showing someone exactly who has been looking at their profile, when and how often.

Now, I’m the first person to be cynical about any claim Facebook makes about caring about their users’ privacy (check out my recent series on Facebook and Privacy). But I really believe Facebook in this case and think they will never permit this functionality—because it wouldn’t be in their best interest to do so.

I think there are lots of people who use Facebook primarily to look at profiles and pictures of other people, particularly those they’re interested in or have broken up with or who are currently seeing people they’ve broken up with. Now, if Facebook were to start allowing people to see who had checked out their profiles, a lot of people might very well delete their profiles and stop using FB altogether because they don’t want to be caught stalking. And since there seems to be some evidence that Facebook is already beginning to lose users, especially among the younger set, they’re not going to do something that will drive more people away when that feature has no particular value to the company itself.

So in addition to re-confirming that you cannot see who viewed your profile, please consider this post another warning never to click on any link that says it will help you do just that. If you do, you’re opening the door to having your account hacked and therefore facing actual threats to your privacy.

Elizabeth Kricfalusi

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  • I want to know if a person may appear on the "people you may know" list if they oftenly get in contact telephonically with one of my frequent telephone friend and that telephone friend is not on Facebook?

    • Hi Precious. I don't know for sure, but I imagine it is possible as Facebook would have access to other databases that include phone numbers. - Elizabeth

  • Trust me when i say it definitely uses people who search for you and click and view your profile. Thats all it takes. I am a manager and had an issue with a guest who said he was going to call customer service just to get free services and i told him to go F himself if he thinks ill just let him get my crew fired and possibly me so he could get maybe $40 free stuff. The situation was resolved and he got nothing but thats not the point. This guy is probably 10 years older than me, has no connections to me or my friends, lives over an hour away from me, and my job is 30 minutes from me anyway. 3 days after the incident at work, guess who showed up on my do you know this person notification. So i dont give a shit what Facebook claims or says, they shouldnt lie about the way their system works. Im actually grateful that it notifies you of someone “looking you up” because it let me know this psycho was searching for me. But Facebook, stop lying. Pretty sure its illegal, and pretty sure somebodys going to get a lawsuit in sooner or later.

    • Hi Joshua.

      Yes, I'm sure Facebook uses the data to suggest people you may know. But that's very different from providing that information to other app developers. That's what I'm saying is not in their best interest to do.

      - Elizabeth

  • Any time you look at a "non-friends" FB profile, you might show up on PYMK. However, if you both share a "friend of a mutual friend" you WILL show up on their PYMK list. Also, if both of you "like" the same page or group, and both of you have made comments on that page at some point in the past, you will also show upon their PYMK list. There HAS to be SOMETHING or SOMEONE that both of you have "mutually liked" or a friend who is friends with one of your friends.

  • Even if you don't sync your phone to facebook, may be linked to others by it because they have your contact info on their phone. So before thinking that your being stalked, ask yourself:

    -Does this person have my email address (the one linked to your fb)?
    -Do they have me as a contact in their phone?
    and
    -Do I have this person's e-mail in my phone?
    -Do I have their contact info listed in my phone?

    That explains MOST of it, but there have been some weird people pop up in my PYMK.

    The most infuriating thing about facebook is the search bar. I blocked my ex for a while, but as soon as he was unblocked, he was still in my search bar (typing the first Letter of his name AND he popped up in my PYMK. I don’t understand why the facebook algorithm doesn’t detect this. While I don’t want him unblocked, I don’t want him popping up every other day. Once you block someone, even for a day, it should completely remove them from search and PYMK.

    Also, I’ve read that it’s plausible that if two people are searching for one another and click on each other’s profile but do not friend each other, you’ll cancel one another out on the PYMK.
    I have a hard time believing that people that are searching for you and coming up in the PYMK, isn’t part of the algorithm.

    Last I’ve read, there are folks that allege that they’ve talked to people on the street, complete strangers and barely an introduction (meaning no swapping of emails, phone numbers, and not on facebook at the time) and they have popped up in the PYMK the very next day.
    There’s even a story about a guy who was raped, and his rapist popped up in his PYMK. The article didn’t say if they had mutual friends (very much doubt that), but the odds are that the alleged rapist searched for him.

    • In addition, I accidentally sent a friend request to an ex-bestfriend that was consistently popping up in the PYMK feed and then cancelled the request immediately. Two things happened:

      -She was immediately removed from the PYMK list (this just happened today, so I'm not sure if she'll reappear, this also makes it plausible that if two people are searching for one another, click on each other's profiles but do not send friend requests, they'll eventually cancel each other out and no long appear in PYMK).
      -A LOT of her friends began to pop up in my PYMK.

  • Can my ex still see my Facebook page if he banned be because of his affair. I think you're going to tell me - yes of course. What can I do about it? Is my only option to start a new page and lose all my previous history?

    • Hi Kat.

      I'm sorry for the delay in replying. If you block your ex, he can't see your Facebook profile. However, he can see if you comment on other people's posts if you're mutual friends. Also, if someone tags you in a post or shares one of yours, he might be able to see it. But he won't be able to go to your Timeline and see what you've posted directly. Here is more information about what happens when you block someone:

      https://www.facebook.com/help/290450221052800/

      Also, remember that if you have mutual friends and one of them has access to your profile, there's nothing preventing them from showing it to your ex on their computer or phone. The only sure way to prevent someone from seeing something on Facebook is by not posting it there at all.

      - Elizabeth

  • to follow-up my comment, maybe it could be their picture and name comes up because their responding to a comment I made and it's showing me who they are.

  • I don't believe that facebook doesn't show who's been visiting your facebook page. I've had something like "do you know" these people, shows their name and pic if they have one, yet everything including my email is set for only me to see and no others. So if you make a comment on a page requiring facebook logon to post comment I believe from there they can link over to your facebook page and look around so why wouldn't the same hold true for someone just doing a search for someone on facebook, finding them, frequently visit their page and somehow show up on their page as a "do you know" so to speak. I'm not sure what term they use but it was something like that.

    • Hi Ray.

      I agree that Facebook has this information and they may use it in different ways, including the "People You May Know" suggestions. However, I do not believe they provide it to third-party developers to create apps that tell you exactly who is visiting your page, when and how often, which is what they usually promise.

      - Elizabeth

      • So to clarify. The question is 'who has viewed my profile', right? Ok, it is agreed that there are no 3rd party apps that can tell you this.

        BUT, if you do view someone's profile you may turn up on their PYMK list which if you didn't have friends in common could be deduced as resulting from you having looked at their profile - so stalkers beware!

  • There was this guy I started talking to on an online dating site, I did a search on the internet and saw he had a facebook profile and I looked at it. When I met him in person, he told me that I came up in his people you may know section and even showed me on his phone. We live in the same city but have nothing else in common, no friends or anything so I have to assume you do show up in PYMK when you view someone’s profile. The weird thing though, is that he doesn’t show up in mine and I know he looked at my profile because he asked me about somethings he saw on it. The only thing I can think of that ties us together is I had him listed in my phone contact as we were communicating back and forth but that is still no reason for me to show up in his PYMK list. If anything, I would think he would show up in mine as well. I have also seen people show up in my PYMK list that are from another country and we have nothing in common, no friends, contacts, same industry or nothing what so ever as to why I might know the person so again, I have to assume they have looked at my profile.

    • Hi Carolyn.

      Yes, I believe Facebook probably uses information as part of their People You May Know algorithm, but what they're not doing is letting third-party apps have that information to give you a full list of who has looked at your profile, when and how often. And that's what they're promising to get you to click so they can hack your account.

      - Elizabeth

  • I am so glad I found this site. There were 3 separate instances where I where met up with people only to find them showing up on my People You May Know (PYMK) list the day after. I have even set up my settings to only permit people with mutual friends to be able to befriend me. So there is no reason for them to show up on my PYMK list, as none of my friends know any of them. I know this, because I only have 25 friends most of which are family and best friends, and I know who sees who in my life.

    Now I can only imagine me appearing on the PYMK lists of all my ex's and colleagues and coworkers who I search for every once in a while out of boredom. And if this is the case, they will all think I am some creepy stalker constantly lurking their pages. WTF FB, please stop doing this or at least tell us what is going on. Ughhh FML.

    • I hate to say it.. but Facebook does need or feed off people being friends with each other? I don't know how they make their money but it must have to do with more activities, more friends requests, and more pages visited... I was checking out an old flame... and I looked at his pictures, friends list...and a few days later, he popped up in my suggestions page as a friend. I had never looked him up in years and suddenly, there he was! I freaked, closed my account as I am convinced that Facebook thinks they are being helpful when they try to force things on people. If I search for someone on FACEBOOK, facebook should not take the liberty to assume that I want to be friends with them. I now realize that My ex boyfriend also looked up my profile.. and this is how I knew that He knew that I had looked him up. I am mortified so Closed my account. But first I had blocked him. The whole thing is becoming all about selling one's information. If I want to be friends with someone, I will ask them. I do not know FB to suggest all sorts of people that I don't even know. I cannot wait for FB to be extinct just like my space. I say in about 5 years. Facebook will be ancient history. So over the lack of privacy when they say they respect our privacy. At the end of the day, it is all about money. The more accounts, activities, clicks and whatnot, FB hears the KACHING noise. So if your employer looks you up. you will know in your friends suggestions pages. Anyone who clicks on your page either 1 or a few times, will be popping up on your friends suggestion page. And if you click on their pages, THEY will know you looked them up too. Conclusion: Facebook does reveal who looked up your profile.

      • Yes, it's possible that if you look at someone's profile you will show up in their People You May Know list although there are lots of other reasons you could appear there. But that's still very different from giving the information to third-party app developers or being able to tell you when exactly someone saw your profile or how often they looked at it, which is what those developers claim.

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Elizabeth Kricfalusi

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