By now, you’ve most likely noticed the many apps and Web services claiming to let you see who viewed your Facebook profile. Is your college ex checking up on you? Is someone from work scrolling through pictures of your beach vacation? Are your parents secretly peeking in on your private life? There are other social networks that do let you see who viewed your Facebook profile. Mainly LinkedIn does it by its “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature.
Regular users can see a recent list of who has been spying on you, along with some basic analytics. But paid users can see up to 90 days worth of viewers, as well as more detailed analytics. It’s great for seeing potential job interest and company prospects.
While there isn’t a built-in feature to see who exactly has checked you out, you still might be able to get some information on how often your Facebook friends viewed your Facebook profile.
Use Facebook’s “InitialChatFriendsList”
Many rumors on the web claim that Facebook secretly exposes your recent visitors in an array variable in the page source code called the InitialChatFriendsList. While this variable does not actually contain the IDs of people stalking your profile, it does give us an interesting peek into how Facebook’s algorithms rank your relationships with your friends.
Facebook prioritizes the friends in your chat list using an internal algorithm. It appears to be based off of how often you communicate with each of your friends. From my research it appears to take into account recent interactions in messages, chat, or comment threads and frequency of recent chats.
Rumors are across the web. They claim that the person located at the very top of your “InitialChatFriendsList” is the person who last viewed your Facebook profile.But this is wrong. People you never have contact with will most likely be at the very bottom, and those that you communicate with more frequently will probably be up top.
So, it most definitely does not prioritize people viewed your Facebook profile at the top of the list. But still, it’s a fun way to check out who you have contact with most. And you yourself should probably know that!
Finding the “InitialChatFriendsList”
If you’d like to view it for yourself, you can easily find this list by viewing the source code of your profile page. To do this: just go to your profile page >> right-click in an empty area on the side >> and select “View Page Source.”
This will show you the page’s source code. From here, go ahead and press Command+F (Mac) or Control+F (Windows) to open the find feature. In the search field, enter “InitialChatFriendsList” and it will take you to the list in the code.
However, it will not show names or links to your friends’ profiles. Instead, it shows their Facebook IDs.
This large list of profile IDs, each separated by commas, is actually your full list of friends.
Turning Numbers into Names
To see whose face matches a number:
- Go ahead and copy the number ID of who you want to check out. You only need to copy the full number that appears in-between the quotation marks, and before the hyphen. Note that the last number after the hyphen doesn’t matter.
- Then just paste it into a new tab or window using the URL below. Substitute NUMBERID for your friend’s actual ID number.
- Hit enter and you’ll be taken to your friend’s profile.
A More Visual Approach
If diving into the source code seems too intimidating, you can see a visual representation of the top few people in your InitialChatFriendsList by doing the following:
- From the desktop view (this won’t work on mobile), make sure your browser window is small enough to hide the sidebar, making the chat window float at the bottom right of your browser window.
- If you’re logged into chat, turn off chat for all friends. You can do this using the gear icon. You’ll need to do this as chat will reorder the list based on who’s online whenever you’re signed in.
- Refresh the browser window. This makes sure it doesn’t remember who’s online and who isn’t.
- Click the little “Chat (off)” bar at the bottom right to switch it on, and pay close attention to the list of friends you initially see.
- For a second or two, the friends you’ll see will be the ones from your InitialChatFriendsList.
- Note 1: You’ll have to look closely as the moment chat finishes logging you in. It’ll get an updated list based on who’s currently online. Once you see green dots next to anyone’s name, you’ll know it’s now showing your online friends instead of your InitialChatFriendsList.
- Note 2: You can always repeat steps 2-4 if you miss it the first time.
- Note 3: Once chat is online, those who are online are pushed up to the top, with the secondary sort being based off of the InitialChatFriendsList order.
Faster Alternative Method
If you have the updated Facebook look, it’s easier to do the reverse and expand the width of your browser window until you see the combo Ticker and Chat sidebar. This will actually show you a list of your friends whether you have Chat turned on or off. So you have all the time in the world to look at the top of the InitialChatFriendsList.
You can adjust the slider to make the Chat box bigger to see more friends. If you still see the grey “Chat (off)” box in the bottom, you probably don’t have the updated look yet.
Really, this is just a more visual way to debunk the theory that the people listed first are the people spying on your profile.
The Other Best Thing: Groups and Messages
The notorious “Seen By” feature is built into the Messages and Group sections. Anytime a post or photo is uploaded, you can check to see who saw the item right there in the message.
Of course, this isn’t the same as seeing everyone that viewed your profile, but you can at least see everyone that viewed your message or group post.
Be Careful about False Facebook Apps
Do not give any Facebook application that claims to show you who has viewed your Facebook profile access to your account data. And do not download any third-party program onto your computer that promises the same. They do not work. These are basic phishing attempts to spam you and your friends or steal your login data. Never click any links on Facebook claiming to know who viewed yours, or your friends profiles. They’re all scams. Guaranteed.
Will There Ever Be a Way?
While there is no current way to see who has actually viewed your Facebook profile, you can see who has recently been in some sort of contact with you through the InitialChatFriendsList, and see who has viewed your comments or posts in a Group or Message.
Given the number of scams based on seeing who has viewed your Facebook profile, it’s clear that the demand for such a feature is there. But the current anonymity does allow for worry-free browsing of friends profiles without worrying about them thinking you’re stalking them.
Let us know in the comments if you think Facebook should create a “Viewed By” feature or if you like the anonymity as that’s currently provided.