Parents, as if all of the privacy concerns and deceitful third-party games weren’t enough, we Facebook users now have something else to worry about, not only for our sake, but for our children’s. The worry…stalker apps.
Stalker apps, including ‘Stalker Check’ and ‘peeppeep-pro’, are applications that Facebook makes available for users to download and use as a means to find out who, on Facebook, is viewing their profile; however, this isn’t actually how these applications work.
As reported by Rik Ferguson from CounterMeasures.com, when Facebook users install and use these stalker apps, they are sent to other sites that contain some sort of malicious software or virus. Additionally, when users click through these apps to see who or what is following them, they are sent to another Facebook app, which in turn earns scammers advertising revenue.
The sad thing is, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this problem on Facebook. Embedded links to dangerous sites and automatic installs is something that Facebook users have encountered in the past while using third-party gaming applications like Zynga’s Farmville and Mafia Wars; and just like those past problems, Facebook made these problems possible in the first place.
Ferguson says, “These changes in scam tactics are clearly designed to overcome the changes that Facebook made recently to application functionality […] isn’t it time Facebook at least had a review of their application publishing policy? […] now that these things are becoming a regular occurrence there must be a tremendous burden being placed on the incident response handlers at Facebook that could be better channeled into an application vetting process.”
Amar Toor from Switched.com also brought up a good point regarding Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s free-market approach for application developers. He asked the question, “would [Facebook] pull these invasive apps if they weren’t loaded with viruses?” Based on the recent history of already mentioned privacy issues that Facebook has been involved in, I think Toor’s question is a legitimate one to ask. Consider that applications often present a revenue stream for Facebook. Pulling them can mean losing money.
I think it’s also fair to ask, at what point is an application ‘invasive’? Is it when it intrudes on the user’s privacy, or is it when the application can potentially have a negative effect on Facebook’s overall functionality? In a nutshell, is Facebook’s authoritative involvement meant to protect the Facebook website, or its users?
With that said, Facebook users need to be on the lookout for these stalker apps. We’ve named just a few. If you have any applications you’d like to share with other users please let us know. As you can see, scammers are taking advantage of Facebook’s application publishing policy and have no remorse for the people who fall victim to it.
Some advice: I learned through all my research not to click on all of the applications that come my way.
When it comes to our children, my recommendation is:
1. Talk to them about these stalker applications.
2. Tell them this is a dishonest way to make money both by Facebook and the companies that make the applications.
3. Tell them, for their protection, not to click on any of these applications that come their way – even if a friend sent it to them.
The old saying of “Better safe than sorry”, applies here as well.