Designers know there's a market for Facebook apps that allow you to see who views your profile. And they also know that Facebook has strict privacy rules forbidding it. So many designers toe this line, bringing you right up to the edge of something resembling actual knowledge. One popular stalker-ish app is Social Statistics, which, in its words, allows you to "calculate your biggest fans, your overall influence, and your compatibility with other users." Search around and you'll find more like it.
Social Statistics and its spinoffs rely on a seemingly technical -- but very important -- point: They can mine your profile for interaction. When someone "likes" a photo you post, comments on your status update or otherwise interacts with your profile, these apps know, and they can build models of your most active friends. But if an ex-boyfriend is simply lurking around your profile, there's absolutely no way to tell, so don't believe the apps that tell you otherwise.
Typing the word "statistics" into the Facebook app directory returns a long list of traffic tracking apps, similar to Facebook Analytics. Most of them aren't as good. But you'll find a rotating and ever-increasing list of gems that do things like mine your status updates for the words you use most.
Be assured that app designers are constantly prodding Facebook for workarounds that take you past the Facebook privacy rules, and every once in a while, a designer finds an inroad. Generally, when this happens, an app that actually does return interesting information about your profile views has a ticking lifespan, which ends when Facebook finds out and shuts it down. For example, take Breakup Notifier, which claimed, "You like someone. They're in a relationship. Be the first to know when they're out of it." The app worked by mining your friends' relationship statuses.
In 36 hours, it attracted 700,000 visits [source: Heussner]. And then, poof, it was gone within the week, squished like a grape under the stiletto heel of Facebook.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you might come across the next banned app before it's banned. Until then, learn to live with the fact that -- definitively, finally and with an exclamation point -- you can't see who's stalking you on Facebook.
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