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Facebook scams are plentiful and most of us like to think we’re pretty good at spotting them. One in particular seems to nab law officers from time to time. It’s the one that promises to tell you who “stalks” your page the most. Sometimes it's also worded as “see who views your profile.”
To officers, it’s a double-edge sword because if it actually worked, it would be very useful in an investigation if someone complained of being harassed. To be able to run an application that (presto!) showed who’s been stalking the victim’s page would be very useful in finding out who the main suspects are. But it doesn’t work that way.
In my training sessions with law enforcement, I’ve been asked more than once if I could tell them how to do just what this scam claims to do. The twist was, in each case where I was asked, it was the cop or one of his/her colleagues who was being harassed on Facebook and they wanted to know which one of these “tools” I recommended.
Here’s the absolute truth: Every one of these claims is a scam. Facebook makes it very clear that the company doesn’t do this itself and won’t allow third party access to that information. If you click through to one of these scams, you will be giving the scammer access to your account. I shudder at the implications that has for officer safety. Beyond that, the scammer will use your account to send messages to all your Facebook friends on your behalf.
It isn’t possible to overstate the need for law officers to be careful with third-party applications on Facebook. The best rule is to assume that all of them will cause harm unless you know for certain it’s been created by a reputable company and serves a real purpose.
The next SMILE (Social Media Internet Law Enforcement) Conference will be held March 25-28 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Click here for more information!