Can You Really See Who Views Your Facebook Profile?
Admit it: You've always wondered who might be snooping around your Facebook page
Privacy concerns on social media have long been a hot-button issue. Users want the ability to control who sees their content, and to a large degree, Facebook has made that possible with numerous settings, like turning off the friends tracking feature, deleting photos and blocking people on Messenger. Other things, like figuring out who blocked you on Facebook, don’t have specific settings but can be accomplished with easy workarounds and tech tips. If you find yourself wondering “Who viewed my Facebook profile?” you’re certainly not alone. After all, it would be handy to know if a potential employer is checking out your page, or whether your ex is keeping tabs on your social life. So is it possible? Read on to find out.
Can I see who viewed my Facebook profile?
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t offer a way to see who viewed your profile. Its official policy, included in an answer on its help page, explicitly states: “No, Facebook doesn’t let people track who views their profile.”
That’s not to say the site has never allowed it. Apparently, Facebook briefly granted this ability in the iOS app for iPhones in 2018, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exposed users’ personal data in a security breach, says Eric Griffith, an editor at PC Mag. For the fleeting period when that functionality existed, users could see who visited their page in the last 30 days, as well as who viewed their most recent posts. That option is no longer available.
LinkedIn, a social media platform for career networking, does permit some users—those who pay for “premium” memberships—to see who’s checked out their profile. “LinkedIn is the only service I know of that does [this],” says Griffith. Facebook has never offered a paid or value-added membership, despite occasional rumors to the contrary—just one of several Facebook “facts” that aren’t true.
Can I use an app to see who’s viewed my Facebook profile?
Since Facebook doesn’t have its own setting to see who’s viewed your profile, users might be tempted to install a third-party app or browser extension to accomplish this goal. But Griffith warns that browser extensions and third-party apps claiming to give you a list of people who have viewed your Facebook profile are bad news. “Facebook doesn’t want third-party apps to allow this, and even requests that people report any apps that do,” Griffith says. “For safety, consider that if an app could scrape that data, what else are they scraping about you? Almost assuredly, they’re stealing some of your data if they can.”
Lance Ulanoff, the editor-in-chief of TechRadar, agrees, saying, “They’re most likely selling the data to a third party.” This practice is known as 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 SecurityScorecard. So stay clear of apps that claim they can track this information, and report such services to Facebook. You should also avoid taking Facebook quizzes for a similar reason.
Can I hack my own data to see who’s viewed my Facebook profile?
A popular “hack” floating around the Internet claims that you can see who visited your Facebook profile by inspecting your page’s source code. Sites that promote this hack say you’ll be able to see profile ID numbers for the people who have visited. Ulanoff warns that there’s no way to confirm that these numbers and accounts actually represent people who visited your profile; instead, they could be people you already connect with on Facebook or Messenger. In addition, attempting this hack may put your computer at risk. Griffith says the sites that suggest these hacks have his “browser sending up security messages.” Facebook is replete with scams, so it’s best not to make it any easier for bad actors to access your data.
Why doesn’t Facebook let you see this information?
The main reason there’s no official way to determine who views your Facebook profile 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, director of the graduate program in social media at the University of Florida. “We all look up friends, former friends, exes and co-workers 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, he adds.
Another possibility is that Facebook wants to avoid legal troubles. Imagine, Griffith says, if someone came to Facebook saying, “You let my stalker see my pictures and I have a restraining order.” That user might be inclined to sue Facebook, so the social media giant keeps that info under wraps.
Even though you may never be able to see who views your Facebook profile, there are other Facebook secrets that the site does want you to know.
About the experts
- Eric Griffith is the features editor at PC Mag. He has written about technology professionally for 30 years and was previously on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC and Access Internet Magazine.
- Lance Ulanoff is an award-winning tech journalist and the U.S. editor-in-chief of TechRadar. He was also previously the editor-in-chief of Lifewire, PC Magazine and Mashable.
- Alexander Heid is chief research and development officer at SecurityScorecard. He is also co-founder and president/CEO of HackMiami.
- Andrew Selepak, PhD, is the program coordinator of the Mass Communication M.A. program at the University of Florida. He also teaches courses in the Department of Media Production, Management and Technology.
Additional reporting by Emily DiNuzzo.
- Facebook: “Who views your Facebook profile”