Facebook removes “stalker” apps

A short-lived resurgence of “stalker” applications was promptly squashed by Facebook a few days ago when many users received notifications or wall posts from their friends to try out an application that will supposedly allow them to see which are the “friends” that visit their profiles more often:

Rick Ferguson claims to have pinpointed as many as 25 different Facebook applications that are, in essence, the same application under a different name: profile-check-online, stalk-my-profile, and others.

He analyzed the configuration process for one of these applications and came to the conclusion that all the options and the “Continue” buttons were just meant to direct you towards installing another application, all with the goal of generating revenue for the author through affiliate based advertising.

So far, there has been no instance in which the process was used to redirect Facebook users to malicious sites, but that does not mean it won’t happen in the future.

To add to the attractiveness and as a method of propagation, some of these applications create photo collages with the pictures of all the “infected” user’s friends. Each photo in the collage is tagged with the name of that particular user, in order for every one of them to receive a notification, post the photo and, preferably, install the application themselves:

With this method, the application author(s) are able to circumvent the policy that Facebook recently put in place and which prevents applications to contact potential users directly by sending unsolicited notifications.

Just to perfectly clear – Facebook doesn’t make available the data needed for this kind of application to work, so the claim they make is completely without merit. But, once again, the need for a more thorough Facebook reviewing process of the applications that will be made available online has been highlighted.

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