Facebook pulls 'stalker list' tool after Gawker exposes it

Some users of the popular social-networking site panicked when the media gossip blog claimed it would show a list of the five people who visited a given member's profile most frequently.

A post on Gawker yielded a moderate wave of panic across the Web when it asserted that by typing the "down" arrow into Facebook's search box, you could see a list of the five people who view your profile the most: Not quite. It was more likely a list of five people whose profiles a user visits frequently, or at least something along those lines. Some users promptly nicknamed it the "stalker list."

Even more curious: Facebook pulled the feature within hours of the Gawker post going up.

"Facebook tries to surface the people we think are most important to users to make it easier and faster for them to navigate the site and find what they are looking for," a statement from Facebook issued on Tuesday read. "The search drop down is not a list of those that have searched for the user. It is also not a list of people whose profile the user has viewed the most or who have viewed the user's profile the most. To avoid any confusion, this will no longer appear."

Whatever the algorithm behind it, the tool was pretty accurate. My "stalker list" consisted of two close friends, two people I'd dated relatively recently, and my younger brother, whose profile I occasionally check up on to make sure he's staying out of trouble--I know, I know, I'm such a good sister.

According to Nick O'Neill at AllFacebook, I was one of the people he "stalked." I'm, uh...flattered?

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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