How to View Private Facebook Profiles

private   How to View Private Facebook ProfilesI’ve always had a penchant for finding flaws within supposedly secure systems. Those sort of activities got me into a lot of trouble in high school, and certainly banned from the high school computer lab once or twice. Early last year I decided to join Facebook, and in doing so, I learned an intriguing fact about this fast-growing social network: Facebook profiles are usually private. Figuring out how to view private Facebook profiles became a brief hobby of mine for a few months last year, so I’m going to share what I learned over those few months with MakeUseOf readers.

Is It Possible to View Private Facebook Profiles?

I like Facebook – it’s a great social network that MakeUseOf has covered in detail, such as my last article on how to email mobile photos to Facebook, or Tim’s great article on how to “friend” someone on Facebook and hide it from your status updates. What I learned during my nightly hacking sessions is this – whatever sort of hack you uncover today, Facebook will have it patched tomorrow. Early on there were different methods how to view private Facebook profiles by typing a URL using just the right format and code, and inserting the person’s Facebook ID into the URL. However, every time one method worked, it only took Facebook a few weeks or less to patch up the hack.

Why would anyone want to spy into someone else’s private Facebook profile?  If you think about it, there are lots of valid reasons.

  • You have a crush on a really hot girl. You’re pretty much a stalker, and you’re okay with that.
  • You suspect your daughter is dating an axe murderer and you want to check out his Facebook profile for evidence.
  • You discovered your significant other is cheating on you, and you want proof.

Regardless your reason, whether moral or not – many people find that they have a need to peek into the private world of someone’s Facebook profile. Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s no easy way to “hack” into someone’s profile. Even if there was – it wouldn’t work long enough to be useful. However, thare are ways to work your way into someone’s private profile, but it takes a little bit of patience, and a lot of unique social engineering techniques.

How to View Private Facebook Profiles With Social Engineering

When I realized that it’s virtually impossible to peek into someone’s Facebook profile using my programming knowledge, I decided to borrow a chapter from the psychology class I took Freshman year in college. Social engineering is essentially the use of psychology to get someone to comply with your wishes. In this case, you want the person to grant you access to view their private Facebook account.  Before you make things too complicated, the first and easiest way to access someone’s private Facebook profile is to simply send them a message and hope they reply.

send message   How to View Private Facebook ProfilesWhenever you click on someone’s picture or name, whether it’s someone on your friends’ list of friends or search results from the Facebook database of users, you’ll find that you have three options to the right side of the person’s bio photo. You can either send them a request to add you as a friend, send them a message, or view their friends. Obviously the first option won’t help you much right now. However, you can use the second option, “send a message,” to work your way into the person’s private Facebook account. How does it work?  Well, Facebook’s help section states that anyone who you add as a friend or send a message to “…will have temporary access to view a small portion of your profile. They will see Basic Info, Personal Info, Work Info, Education Info and Friends.”

1. Send them a message like, “Hey! We went to school together, do you remember me? I think we sat together in Geometry.”

2. They may respond with something like, “I don’t know who you are, get lost.”

3. You now have temporary access to view their profile.

The James Bond Approach to Accessing Private Facebook Profiles

If the person doesn’t reply to you, there’s still hope. This next approach makes use of of a form of social engineering called, “demand characteristics.”  This is where you set up a group situation where the person adds you as a friend just to “go with the flow” because everyone else has.  First, you need to create an identity that the person will recognize.  Click “View Friends” in the bio preview box, and scroll through their friends to find someone who doesn’t have a profile picture loaded.

friends   How to View Private Facebook Profiles

This person is someone who you know is a friend of your target, and the fact that they haven’t loaded an image means they may not use Facebook often and rarely keep in contact with your target. It also means that you can present youself to your target as this person, and they’ll never know the difference. You should also make note of at least 20 or so of the other friends on her list. Next, go to Facebook’s main page and sign up using the same exact name of the friend you found without an image.

signup   How to View Private Facebook Profiles

Make sure to sign up with an anonymous email account. For help, check out the MakeUseOf review of MakeMeTheKing, or the review of noSPM.  Once you get into this new “fake” Facebook account, ask the 20 friends of your target to add you as a friend.

addfriend   How to View Private Facebook Profiles

Carefully add all twenty or so of your target’s friends to your friends list by using the approach above. Nine times out of ten, it’s human nature to assume that the message they’re receiving in Facebook is from the person they know, and they’ll always click “Add Friend.”  Once you’ve accumulated a good list of mutual friends with your target, you’re ready to go in for the big win.  Go back to that person’s profile on the search page, click “Add Friend,” and write one of the most convincing notes you can muster.

finalfriend   How to View Private Facebook Profiles

The reason you spent so much effort getting her friends to show up on your fake account before you contacted her was to make your “fake” account look far more convincing. She’ll see the number of mutual friends, the sincere plea for help, and just as group psychologists predict – she’ll “go with the flow” and add you as a friend just like everyone else did. The moment she does, you have access to her employment information, school information, photos and anything else she’s added to her account. With a bit of social engineering, you’ve gained the keys to her private Facebook profile.  Well done.

Do you know of any other ways to view private Facebook profiles? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

131 Comments -

0 votes

Anon

Your 2nd approach is clearly spamming the email provider and facebook system. I wonder how such an article can get published on MakeUseOf.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Hey Anon – thanks for your reply. For your benefit, I’ve looked up a few definitions of spam.

# spam – a canned meat made largely from pork
# spam – send unwanted or junk e-mail
# spam – unwanted e-mail (usually of a commercial nature sent out in bulk)

I think an important stipulation is that you’re not sending these emails in bulk. You’re selectively choosing specific people that you’re individually sending targeted emails to.

Trust me – for every 2 people who are writing “holier-than-thou” comments…there are 10 people going…”cool! I gotta try that!” ;)

0 votes

Jen

i really need you help to acess a page for me thats private

0 votes

Bobby

i like the way you think man, the 2nd method is wicked sneaky and mischivious, just as i like’em lol :-)

0 votes

Cynthia

all i have to say is….”cool! I gotta try that!”

0 votes

Tammi

Cool I GOTTA TRY THAT !!! I like you !!!

0 votes

alexandrojv

yeah seriously, this just seems like such a wrong thing to do, and for MakeUseOf to show how to scam people into believing that someone is not who they really are is so wrong, shame on you Ryan Dube for posting this, and specially shame on MakeUseOf for letting him post this!

0 votes

Peircosip Garvardo Leguan

Heh. It’s better to show people whats really out there then wallow in naivity

0 votes

Gaurav

Bravo Ryan!! I think it’s an excellent article, it’s clearly not written with any harmful intentions. I think it’s a good thing to educate readers about social engineering and the psychology behind internet security. Looking forward to more quality articles.

0 votes

Charax

Wow. First Jimmy posts an article containing the worst Torrent advice ever, then Ryan posts about “Becoming a hero” by following the inefficient and fearmongering Amber Alert system, and now we have Ryan (again!) effectively telling us “How to scam your way into someone else’s Facebook profile”

What the hell is going on? Is 2009 the year MakeUseOf becomes Bad Advice Central?

0 votes

Sneeky.Shit

hey ryan !
damn uv got good ideas !
good stuff man . keep it up

0 votes

Starfire

Damn you rock man. You know i was searching for how i can hack someone’s Facebook and then i came across your article and I’m quite impressed with how you made use of psychology with technology over here.lol:D:)

Keep it up buddy!!!

0 votes

Aaron

Yeah, I don’t think this was a good idea for a post. I think most people could have already figured it out (I purposely haven’t responded to people JUST BECAUSE I knew it’d give them access to my profile), and those who couldn’t, probably shouldn’t be given such easy-to-follow directions.

0 votes

James

Wooow, good job!

Thanks for your information . I did it and it works :)

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Thanks James…glad to hear it. Trust me, it’s the only way that works. ;)

As I wrote in the article, every trick in the book has it’s negative uses and its positive uses. There are plenty of good reasons why someone (like a parent or spouse) may need to get a look at a private profile. When I write these articles, I’m not going to preach morals to people…there are plenty of people out there who are more than willing to do that. :)

You only live once, have fun folks! :)

0 votes

unrenowned

Actually, this is a GREAT article that points out a serious flaw, not in Facebook itself, but human nature.

By doing this, the author has shown us that one of the things we can do to protect our “private” accounts is to query the person in question.

For example, let’s say the name of the Friend we have added goes by the name of “Sid” and some other person is trying to convince us that he is Sid.

Step one is to send a message off to the original “Sid” account and see if there is a response (give 24-72 hours leeway).

If there is no response from the account, we can also try sending an email to an account we know belongs to the real Sid (or if you don’t know the email account, you can ask one of your other friends who may have this information to do so).

Before I get flamed, yes, you can also be in a situation where “Sid” is on vacation, hasn’t told anyone, hasn’t logged into his account in, say two weeks, and you add the false Sid.

One thing you could do, is remember NOT to publish information you do NOT want other people to find out about you on the internet.

There is zero “absolute” security on the net.

0 votes

another reader

The last statements u said are the most sensible…. people, simply don’t post everythin about yourself on the net, and regret later on!
And Ryan is only educating us of the possibilities! (Tho mtd 2 was a lil obvious, if u had thought abt it)

0 votes

Feeling Icky

Yeah, this is just wrong, what an all time low for Make Use Of. Very sleazy sham-wowish article. Time to delete MUO from my reader, sorry.

0 votes

bagel

Oh come on! stop being such damn hypocrites.
The author didn’t mean anything wrong.
I found the article kinda hilarious actually.

0 votes

Feeling Icky

Yeah, what an all-time-low for Make Use Of. This article is down-right creepy….sleazy at a sham-wow level. Time to remove Make Use of from my reader, sorry.

0 votes

scadle

the wrong kind of people can access this information – like those who are being stalked….then again its simple advice that anyone could have figured out – if they are a creepy stalker that is.

0 votes

tipat

lol lol that is so funny. I don’t even give a toss if I can’t see other’s profile, if they live in my country and i know them then i add them, other than that, all my facebook friends are people i know, I just don’t add anyone alive

0 votes

Weak article shouldn’t have been published

This was a poor article, and an clear error of judgement by Makeuseof. People don’t need to read the pathetic little scribbles of some weird guy who spends his time figuring out to dupe girls into being friends with him – not even in real life, but in internet-life.

Sure, if there was a real security angle the article might be useful, but there clearly isn’t: “hot girls”, “axe-murderers” and “cheating” don’t really justify the need.

Every article on Makeuseof impacts on the site’s brand strength and its profile, and publishing junk like this reflects badly on what is usually an excellent, useful and informative site. I understand why others have commented that they’re going to stop reading MUO…

0 votes

Spike Spiegel

@MakeUseOf-Team: I don’t understand why you support letting someone post this kind of article.

This is way too weird. The author is apparently not aware of psychological damage which stalkers or persons alike can cause on other people.

Sorry guys, i’m deleting my feed subscription.

0 votes

kazana

I don’t get all the hate. It’s basically an article about social engineering applied to facebook. And an entertaining one at that.

I bet that if the platform wasn’t facebook, but something less widely used or even just theoretical, the holier-than-thou crowd would’ve kept silent and/or maybe even applaud.

Thanks for the article Ryan.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Hey Kazana – thanks for getting it! Don’t let those folks bother you…as they claim to be deleting MUO from their reader, watch as MUO’s subscriptions keep going up…and up…and up…. :)

It’s about thinking outside the box – and yes, the examples provided in the article to justify the social engineering approach are valid. Think about it – if I know some overage guy has a Facebook profile and he’s dating my underage daughter who claims she’s “in love” with him…you’re flippin’ right I’ll do what I gotta do to see what he’s up to…

Great responses though – I love the feedback!

0 votes

Tom

Hey Ryan,

You really seem proud about it.
I’ll prove you wrong. How?
I will be you on Facebook!
See if that is outside of the box enough for you?

No thanks for my great response.

TTT

0 votes

Peircosip Garvardo Leguan

wonder of ryan’s even his real name

0 votes

SnickersBoston

Good article Ryan. I didnt know sending and email opened my account to who it was sent to. The second method was also thought provoking. Another thing to look out for. I cant believe so many people are bad mouthing this article. No doubt liberals. Trying to kill MUO and this country. I cant stand fragile people who think their entitled to this or that. FB isnt national security.

0 votes

ChazzMann

Good article Ryan. I didn’t know sending an email opened my account. The second method was also thought provoking. I can’t believe so many people are bad mouthing this article. No doubt conservatives. I can’t stand fragile people who think they’re entitled. FB isn’t national security.

Seriously, telling me in some detail what scofflaws do to hustle me is a public service that should be encouraged. I may own a copy of the Anarchist’s Cookbook for its entertainment value, but I don’t build bombs.

0 votes

Really Uncool Post

This is really an uncool post. If you think you are being informative in a good way, you are absolutely not.

I would have to check twice before I accept a friend on FaceBook from now on. This technique is almost like commiting fraud.

With the kind of large reader base MUO has and most with FaceBook accounts, this is a wrong palce for this information to be published.

Aibek, I hope you would screen the articles more carefully from now on. Seriously, this kind of information doesnt deserve a place on MUO which is looked at as a blog with good and informative tech realted stuff.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Think about what you just wrote. This article will make you check twice before you accept a friend on Facebook from now on.

Does it click yet, my friend?

0 votes

-.-

Wow, How completely unoriginal, Social engineering, big woop. It takes no computer skills whatsoevver to do it. Makeuseof what were you thinking when you let this post go through? Did he hold a gun to your head or did he make another fakebook profile instead of going outside again?

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Yeah, totally…Aibek fell for my fake Facebook trap, and he was so impressed that he agreed to publish the article. ;)

0 votes

jollyrogue

hmm.. Now, i’ll have to watch out for things like this.. don’t like this one bit.

My facebook is private for a reason…

0 votes

Stacy

I’m not sure if this works anymore, but the default setting used to be that people in your same network can view your profile. Most were unaware that this was the default and very few people actually change their settings. So, if the person was in the Los Angeles network, as an example, all you had to do was join the LA network and you could see tons of profiles lol :) I’m sure they would have patched that up by now, but it worked a charm at one point!

0 votes

John

The “right” article to publish would’ve been “protect yourself from Facebook scammers.” This? Well, do you know that you can get anybody’s phone number without even knowing their name? You can ask them, and sometimes they’ll accidentally give it to you.

Obviously, be careful in doing things like this. It wouldn’t surprise me if some intrepid District Attorney was able to spin something along these lines into a wiretapping, fraud, or identity theft case.

0 votes

Subt

Of all the things to get upset and/or become moral about on the internet and people go after this (great) article.

My guess is that those people are upset because you exposed some of the techniques they use on facebook ;)

Don’t people realize that there’s nothing illegal about getting someone to add you as a friend on a PUBLIC social network. Even if you may be deceiving the person to get added they still have to willingly accept the friend add. If you create a facebook profile only to make it private then why did you even take the time to create it in the first place? To me that’s kinda creepy.

Stop being so uptight people. What a bunch of whiny libs.

0 votes

youthworker

Two things Subt;
1. IANAL, but lying to someone, claiming to be a third party in order to gain something is most probably illegal in some parts of the world.
2. Being legal isn’t anywhere close to the same thing as being moral- “uncool,” “creepy,” “sleezy” or “and error of judgment.” Consider the story of Megan Meier and you’ll get my point.

0 votes

Philly cheese steak

Why all the negativity? Indeed this was TERRIBLE article in all regards, but the mere fact that it has got so many people worked up shows what a BRILLIANT article it is.

Its like the half full half empty question. You csn look at this article as a wrong way of gaining access to private data, or you can see it as a way to protect yourself from falling for such “scams”.

These methods hold within them the seeds for these own ‘destruction’. We can sit here and talk about who is cancelling their subscribtion, but lets face it, now thanks to this article, you would definately think twice when you get a friend request on facebook.

GREAT ARTICLE,….. Poor Excution.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Thanks Philly – and I appreciate your insight on this. The one thing I personally do whenever coming up with any article idea is determining what it is that people want to read about based on what people are looking for on the net. Thousands of people scour the net every day looking for how to view private Facebook profiles, and few websites exist to provide them the answer they seek.

Is it wrong to answer a question people are asking because knowing how *could* be considered fraud or illegal? Maybe…in all honesty I don’t really care, because I believe in the freedom to write about controversial topics – and I also see the discussion regarding those topics (from both the positive and negative commentators in here) as extremely insightful, informative, and valuable regarding privacy of social networks. If the discussion doesn’t take place and we hide a hole because the topic is “icky” – how does that do any good? If the article has made you stop and think today about the morality or ethics of this, as well as the potential positive or negative uses of such forms of social engineering, then I consider this discussion a tremendous success.

Thanks to everyone for your great comments – on both sides of the debate. :)

0 votes

PeterD

hmm, with all the crap of the MUO hijack you would think that Make Use Of would be totally negative towards scamming. Own goal make use of, another reader you dont value dropping you from his reader.

0 votes

Aibek

Hey folks

The prupose of the post was to show how this can be done on Facebook. The mere fact that this can be done REQUIRES us to publish it so that Facebook finds a way to fix this. Simply not talking about this won’t help. As for the story title we deliberately make it provocaive so that it reaches people on Facebook.

Aibek

0 votes

flashparry

Alerting people to the fact they might get scammed is one thing, but this article wasn’t written from that perspective. The author comes across as arrogant.

Why would anyone want to spy into someone else’s private Facebook profile? If you think about it, there are lots of valid reasons.

* You have a crush on a really hot girl. You’re pretty much a stalker, and you’re okay with that.

I’m sorry, but if you honestly think stalking a woman is a valid reason for accessing a her facebook profile then you’re seriously misguided.

Sorry MUO, it’s been fun, but that’s it for me… unsubscribe? yes

0 votes

Tom

The logic here is completely flawed and disingenuous.

You could go out to a couple stores and find all the ingredients you’d need to build a bomb. If someone was concerned about people trying this, the WRONG thing to do is post the recipe for how to build a bomb in order to get the attention of the people who could prevent it from happening, i.e. the police.

In this case, the author is ostensibly trying to help improve FB’s security by posting the bomb making recipe.

You’d be better off going to FB directly instead of hiding behind flawed logic.

0 votes

Emre Ruhi

To those who found this either “uncool” or intriguing but a little too much work, I just wrote a similarly-themed article on my blog that shows you how to view the full-size picture of anyone’s Facebook profile picture. It’s pretty easy to do and allows you to be only mildly sketchy rather than fully :D

0 votes

PeterD

Aibek the gloating tone of the article contradicts your reason for it being published, and the arrogant responses of the author also back this up.

0 votes

Nikon

I like this article- I dont think anyone will be stupid enough to actually do it, but most of us who reads it now will be aware of this trick for the future…so in terms of cost benefit it pays of for the community.

0 votes

Wrong approach

I don’t think anyone’s disagreeing that it’s a loophole, and an important issue. The mistake was to approach the issue with an article like this – gleefully focusing on how you can con people, rather than on how you can protect yourself.

There’s little skill in writing an offensive article that gets people talking. Sadly, for me, the only thing this will make me check more often is whether or not I should bother reading MUO articles.

This has moved MUO from “reliable” (a rare attribute), to “unreliable”.

0 votes

Erin

I also appreciate this. People are bothered because it probably is a very effective technique, which reinforces the value of publicizing it, which is the only way to stop it from working. I tend to be highly suspicious of facebook ads and generally ignore ones from people I don’t have another method of contacting directly, but a lot of my friends aren’t.

Right now, communication is a commodity, which makes privacy less valuable. In a few years when all of these networks are commonplace instead of novel people will start to realize the value of protecting their information. The number of people who put common security question answers in their Facebook and MySpace profiles (or even on slightly more secure sites like friends-locked livejournals or blogs) astound me. We need more articles like this, propagated more thoroughly, if people are to understand how publicizing their information sets them up for deception and abuse by even mildly savvy online predators.

0 votes

heyman

I think the second part is not ethical. At least how it is presented. I think that if you had presented it as “hey this is a flaw in facebook…this what a hacker might do”. Having said that, I believe it is good to see how hackers think and how social engineering is done, to watch out for it. Thanks.

0 votes

Topsy-Techie

Article just made me giggle. The thought that someone would go to ALL that time and trouble to deceive someone into opening up their Facebook profile, instead of spending half of that energy going out into the real world and actually making a real friend. Funny stuff!!!!

0 votes

Moz

Topsy you missed the whole point completely!

It’s not just some random dude you will add, it’s someone important as he mentioned.

0 votes

Rico

Does this still work? AFAIK, even a Facebook user’s friends is not viewable to strangers.

0 votes

Lynn

There’s no originality or insight here. This is one of those articles thought up after the fifth beer. It’s simply juvenile. Now, had there been a real hack, that would have been worthwhile.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Thanks Lynn – actually I think it was probably the 3rd beer, but point taken. ;)

0 votes

Jonny

lucky I don’t use face book and I never will use but anyone can write what they want +++

0 votes

Ivor the Insufferable

On the face of it, I didn’t like the article. It had an amoral tone. I still think it’s important to read things like this, to comment on them, and to not unsubscribe from a feed or blog just because an article rubbed you the wrong way, or because a certain writer did the same.

This is not so much a how-to, imo. It’s a heads-up or a reminder for everyone, that the traditional hustle has not gone away, it’s only moved online.

0 votes

Ivor the Insufferable

Also, anyone who is in favor of what the author is advocating, should ask themselves if they’d want to be on the receiving end of such a hustle. That is, how would you feel on finding out that someone had been doing this to you.

0 votes

Philly beef jerky

well, it would obviously not be a great experience…..But,
much of what this article talks about is not exactly rocket science….

Most people know about this..i for one knew about the first one, the second..well, even if i did think about it, i cant be bothered with the process…..and am sure thats what most people who have read this article think as well.

Trust me, this article is not going to be a revelation to people out there who want to get into other peoples profiles.. this method to be honest is REALLY “premitive”.

A lot worse can be done by those “harmless” facebook apps than these. .. .

I am waiting for someone to post a success story….dont worry, i’ll wait.

0 votes

Ivor the Insufferable

Yes. I was thinking about this. I swear I was. What better way to get into someone’s profile than via a Facebook app. In order for us to use one, we have to give them the front door key. But I don’t know what the restrictions are, the difficulties. I could research it but I don’t know if I care that much. Interesting subject though.

0 votes

sam

I think this is a wonderful article. I won’t be trying it out but if anyone does try to view my account without permission, I can know see some of the signs: a friend adding me twice. All I have to do is confirm that my friend (first account) has actually lost his or her password.
Also, I had no idea that by responding to a message, the other person can view my account… And for sure didn’t know there were so many hacks out there to access Facebook accounts. Amazing!
Thank you for a great article, it was quite eye opening :)

0 votes

Michelle

I think this is a great article and great idea. Yeah it might be snooping or just to satisfy a little curiousity. If someone just wants to peak to see what is going on in someone else’s life and its more harm then good to send them a friend request and they are not being mean or hateful, where is the harm. If you don’t have things you want people to know then you shouldn’t join any internet sites where there is a possibility for someone to gain access to your information. FB is a networking website to connect with people. I think it is silly to have private profiles.

Great Post! Glad I found the site!

0 votes

Steve

This article identifies a security issue. Everyone complaining seems to think that this article was written so that stalkers could get into private Facebook accounts. Wrong. Point the finger at yourself – this article was written so that you know how stalkers scam in order to get access to your Facebook account.

Do you honestly think that stalkers don’t already know this information?

This information is for you to protect yourself from stalkers.

0 votes

caballeroluna

i just want to know if the girl i love is still with her boyfriend or not.

is that so difficult??

0 votes

Ryan Dube

caballeroluna – in that case you may not to trick her…because in the end when you end up dating her, that’s likely a little fact that may not make her very happy… lol.

Maybe ask some of her friends if she’s still dating him? And if she’s not…man, just go for it. You’ll be glad you did (hopefully). :)

0 votes

Lee

i was looked about some facebook stuff and i faid really GOOD website Guides on

facebookgeeks.blogspot.com there a lot of tricks just 4 facebook

0 votes

Stadler

I love how so many people have been complaining about this being shown on this website – yet why one earth would they be reading the article unless they wanted to find an underhand way of reading someone’s facebook profile? :) Hypocrisy methinks!

0 votes

The Damaja

There is a sense of paranoia and hypocrisy that comes with this topic. Privatized profiles were originally designed to deter pedophiles from accessing minors. Now, it’s gotten out of control. If an adult has a privatized profile, it defeats the purpose of social networking, where people get to know each other in a way they otherwise might be unable to.

The only time it would be sensible to do that might be when searching for employment, because HR Managers are using social networking sites as part of the background checks. You see, even a “harmless” picture (adult beverage in hand, girl in bathing suit, lesbian kissing her partner, etc.) can be viewed by a potential employer as a red flag, if they personally don’t agree with the behavior depicted in said photo.

Other than that, hiding yourself it comes off as quite contradictory. It’s anti-social behavior and hypocrisy at best. A person can look at others’ profiles to learn something about them and react accordingly, but that same person closes themselves off from others. It comes down to a lot of people not wanting to take responsibility for their actions and their postings. We’ve all wanted to know what someone was like and tap into their personality as a way to be informed. People like to throw around words like “creepy” and “stalkerish” to dismiss the views and actions of others, even if those views and actions are something the accuser does or has done in some point. There’s no criminal intent in looking at an online profile, Googling someone, and so on just to obtain information about someone. It’s what you intend to do afterward that the term “stalkerish” might apply. If you’re gonna call courtship (a man e-mailing a woman or looking at his crush’s profile to see if she’s single or compatible), then you’d have to look at yourselves in the mirror, because we’ve all been curious to know more about someone who tickles our fancy or get in touch with one who got away to see if time heals wounds. Also, if you’re gonna the viewing of profiles only as “stalking”, then you’d have to accuse cops of that, the FBI, private investigators, Human Resources Homeland Security, and so on who survey, watch over, and search for people in person, through search engines, and online profiles. In fact, I’ve seen news stories about criminals posting info on Facebook and MySpace and getting busted because of it.

The bottom line is that, when accusing someone of that, it conveys the person has intent to harm in a criminal manner. There are people who are genuinely being terrorized by someone and we can’t have knuckleheads who don’t handle their personal business taking away from those who are in imminent danger of being beaten, raped, and/or killed. Looking at a webpage is benign and unless the person is posting info that can be used to survey and or contact the person with dangerous intentions (example: the mother who created the profile which led to a teen’s suicide), then let’s not take away from the people who need help from crazed fans and those out to commit actual criminal acts.

Most of these “stalking” situations are social situations where the parties involved are not communicating nor acting properly. If one or both parties did something differently instead of being irresponsible and running away from their personal issues, then the conflict would either be resolved or there would be no conflict in the first place. Not handling your business like an adult and getting a bunch of not-so-informed third parties (regardless of it’s a friend or a D.A.) just makes a seemingly bad situation a million times worse. Also, authorities have to deal with these petty personal squabbles while those who really require the help and protection are either not getting it or their claims are not being taken seriously because of the crying wolf others do.

We live in a curious society, period. Why else do we have this stuff like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and so on? There’s nothing wrong with it, as long as your intentions aren’t malicious or criminal in nature. The National Enquirer, Inside Edition, TMZ, and other trash media are controversial in terms of the photos they take and the accuracy of the information they report (which sometimes lead to libel and slander lawsuits). We as a culture crave information about something or someone and that’s better than being assumptive and not thinking and acting for ourselves. As long as you aren’t expressing interest in harming anyone, quench your thirst for knowledge. Some people are just more PC and hypocritical than others. They want to look at profiles and see what an ex or anyone else for that matter is up to yet when they’re the searched or contacted one they’re defensive.

Social networking sites are meant to be forums to socialize. To dismiss others methods of socializing is just exposing one’s behavior to be probably no different at one point or another. If you have to privatize it, then you probably shouldn’t have one or at least strip it down and learn to express yourself better. You just may very well get shot down for that $100k salary position, and no, your potential boss didn’t “stalk” you, as they have the right to know what type of person they might be hiring and they don’t have bad intentions with their background checks. Hell, I’ve heard of women doing credit checks on guys before first dates, so consider yourselves lucky.

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Ryan Dube

The Damaja – wow, very well written and well said. You’re right, there is certainly a happy medium between privacy and social networking. Some people may take it to extremes – and you bring up a lot of good points about what people intend to use social networks for, just for socializing with their own “cliques” or for meeting new people? What level of privacy is excessive? Great points to consider…

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james bond

Your article is so flawed. If you pretend to be the ‘friend’ of your target and try to add the target by saying u lost your password, of course the target will simply check her actual friend’s real profile for any recent activity or simply call up her actual friend to verify. The target wld not be that stupid to comply to your request by impulse. In the event that anyone loses his/her password, he/she wld just click on the ‘forget password’ link to retrieve password via email; most ppl who lose their password wld not create an entire new account.

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KEN

The people who complaints about this article are egocentric, and they only see one point of view. For example, weapon can use to kill people, but it also can save your life. It’s up to you, what you’re going to use it for. People can use this article to do whatever they want, and it can be positive or negative. Before you compliant, think about it again. How the hell you get into this article. Did you just google for it? or Did you click on something else that similar to this article? It’s impossible to pop up in your PC.

I like Psychology and I learn some stuff from you Ryan. Thank you!!!

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Blah Blah

Cool!!!!!!!

Sweet!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone else sucks… lol!!!

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badar

hi ryan, is there any way to see facebook last activity of my non-friends. i hope u will help me out.
btw that was a nice article i’ve ever found on net, and …
***cheers***

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Ryan Dube

Hey Badar – thanks for your comment. The technique to see last activity would be the same as to see profile pictures of a non-friend. As a few readers have mentioned – it really is virtually impossible technically, so social engineering is the only way if you’re desperate enough. As you can also see from the comment, the approach is controversial. Good luck!

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facebook.is.overrated

I really don’t wanna judge ryan dude, as the article is still considered to be an effortful contribution, seeing there were some sounding academic reference involved. But I was seriously expecting some techniques more orthodox than that. Make-use-of-the-friends-around-your-target fits right in MUO haha.

I personally wouldn’t go that far to peak into someone’s life. And I don’t think there will be another proper way to do it.

But good effort Ryan, maybe just not on this site

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Ryan Dube

Thanks for your comment – but as you’ve probably noticed (and as you mentioned yourself), orthodox methods don’t work. There’s no other “proper” way to do it other than unorthodox methods. Facebook privacy settings are pretty tight, and every hole gets patched up quickly. If someone is absolutely desperate, done right the social engineering approach described here will work. It’s great that you wouldn’t do it – kudos to you.

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Jaden

since you know how to do this i want to hack back into my account but i set my privacy settings so only i could see but i can’t go on it and find the email

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Just_Some_More

Hi Ryan, found this article great. While there is some moral problems, 75%+ of people will probably either fail or not end up doing it, and I fall in that category. For the people who post negatively on this, you went to the article in the beginning, it did not go to you. For those who simply looked at it to post a bad review, do something better with your time.

Now, for my content.

The part 2 of this, saying I lost my password, has its obvious problems.

1. If they log on and see these things, it is plainly shown what comes up next.

My solution, is you play another role. Instead of
“I lost my password” you can say “some person has hacked my account and they are horrible. They will imitate me and try to get to you. Whatever you do, ignore them.” Adjust this to be appropriate. You could even put forward “they are stalking me so don’t communicate with me because it just helps them”.

The massive advantage of this is that because the original account owner might object on over the fake one (particularly to the person who you were originally trying to target), in this method it is sorted with.

The problem with this is that by not taking the stalker route, they might contact the person who you are imitating. Alternate forms of communication which are reliable are used.

Please comment as this is my first post and I have enjoyed it.

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Just_Some_More

I also forgot to say that another advantage is that you can act as a frequent user that lives in another city.

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NotSoFast

This might have worked at one time. But does NOT any longer. Private profiles will not have a view friends tab. Please hang up and try again.

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Timmy

making a fake facebook profile is completely against facebooks “term’s of use” and will get your main account banned. they will track your IP and delete all accounts associated with it.

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James

I think this is great! I will definitely try this. Thank you for publishing!!

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takmil

hey, good one there Ryan. doesn’t matter what they’re thinking about you or, how many boos you get from readers. you just made most readers a bit more conscious.

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jaz

what if you can’t view their friends either??

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Betsy

I have a crazy situation a girl stole my pics off facebook but she’s set to private so I can’t see what exactly she is saying or how many of my pictures she has stolen. I reported her to facebook but they have done nothing so far.

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johnny

this is the best article ever, it really works, thanks man,
your the best

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Rosy

you are a genious!!

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cvinson

Finally a solution. Great article. I have been trying to view a private myspace and facebook page for a few years now.

I have a valid reason to need to see a private facebook page, I am not trying to get anyones personal info, or post negative comments. My fiance’s baby’s mother lives in another state and keeps putting old pics of her and my fiance as her main profile pic trying to portray that they are together and a “family”. They were never in a relationship and she got pregnant on purpose and deceitfully. My fiance only took the pic with her and the baby, for his daughter bday, my fiance tucked his away in his daughter memory book for her to have when she gets older, this biatch on the other hand, couldn’t wait to turn around and use the pic in a deceitful way, and “acting” like they are together so all her friends or anyone who looks at her profile will automatically asume they are together, so she won’t look stupid being a single mom. WE have contacted facebook and myspace numerous times and reported her and they do nothing! My fiance is upset because the pic wasn’t in that context and he doesnt like his pics online and doesnt even join social sites and never gave her permission to post his pic, especially in a false way.

Then she sets her pages to private so its like “what do you have to hide, and what are you saying to all your friends about my fiance that we can’t see?

I just want to see if she is being truthfull, and saying the guy in the pic is her daughters father, or if she is trying to act like she is in a real relationship. We live in VA and her in NJ and to see what other pics she may be posting that we can’t see.

what are we supposed to do when myspace/facebook doesn’t help victims, we have to take it into our own hands as we have tried for years to get help the right way.

Before we confront her we want to know the truth of her intentions. If she is really being truthfull, then ok who cares about the pic, but if she is lying then that is slanderous and she needs to be confronted and stopped.

You should not be allowed to post pics of other people without their permission. YOu should have to blank out others faces and only show yours unless you have permission.

That is so humiliating to me if my friends or family end up seeing her profile pic and it looks like he is cheating when they don’t even see each other, when he goes to NJ to visit his daughter, I am right there with him.

So how do i get this to stop without an article like this. I have no malicious intents, however the person who page I need to view has malicious intents towards me.

No one should be allowed to post any pic they want, if the other people in the pic wanted their business on the internet they would post it theirself.

We should be able to contact facebook and myspace and request a user take our pics down if we don’t approve.

For those with negative comments, there are far worst things in the world that people are doing, and information they are hacking than trying to view a dang social network page, BIG DEAL!

you shouldnt create the page if you don’t want to risk the chance of anyone seeing your personal information, there will always be glithes and security loopholes so don’t chance it, if you are so pressed to keep “private” about everything, if you don’t post it, no one can hack it!

Thats why my fiance doesn’t deal with the internet other than email or our home based business because he doesn’t want his pics or personal info out there so she shouldn’t be allowed to do it for him!

THanks again, I can’t wait to try this.

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Somebody

Hey, great article!

Do you have any other suggestions for part two, since a person shown in a public search without a profile picture might just indicate that their picture is set to private (and not that they don’t use facebook often, though that’s possible too).

Would it be too risky to copy the pictures/info of a friend’s public profile?

Look forward to testing this out.

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pete

hehe well done man, total respect to you i like the way you think! ;)

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h3lls1ng

Great article, you have just reaffirmed my view of the intellectual capabilities of the majority of the negative response ‘facebookers’

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Prabhath

Dear Ryan,

Can’t we think from the friend’s ID that show when focusing on the friend’s picture?

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Liam

By the way its a federal crime to impersonate some one… Im 95% sure… atleast its illegal to make a facebook as someone else… I wouldnt be worried about anyone careing much but you never know

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Katie

That’s very clever, but I have to say I would call the cops if I realized someone impersonated my friend.

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T

Yeah im not badmouthing this im just saying im pretty sure this already around and that you CAN get reported its called Phishing

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Dave

I thought of this idea too. But the person i want to spy on has their friends list set to private. DAMMMMMMM!!!!

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4qan

wowW.. gr8 stuff.. hey, do u still use facebuk??? i wanna add U…

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furqan

wowW.. gr8 stuff.. hey, do u still use facebuk??? i wanna add U… or anyone alse who wants to.. my name is “Furqan Sattar”

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Louise

I am actually the victim of having my Facebook profile “hacked” in this way. Does anyone know how to remove the intruder?
The person who portrayed themselves as one of my friends has been adding creepy comments to my photos, but when I go to my friends list they aren’t there to delete. HELP!!!!

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ed

Hey, it sounds like you might not have your photos set as private, check your privacy settings

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renny

This “trick” would only truly work on a person who has hundreds or thousands of friends. Not someone who keeps tabs on everyone. While I might be one to try something like this, I know it would never work on me. Takes one to know one ;) Also, I think eventually they would realize the profile was fake (unless they are one of the aforementioned types) so you might as well get the info you need while you can.

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Meghan

As a computer security major, I found this article interesting from a security perspective. I’m glad to know that Facebook addressed the security vulnerabilities in a reasonable timeframe, it brings me comfort as a Facebook member. I was unaware that my profile becomes temporarily available by simply responding to a message from a non-friend. I’m thankful for that knowledge.

Regarding the moral lashings that I viewed in the comments above, you don’t deserve them for posting the article. I find the article informative and I will now be guarded when viewing messages and friend requests.

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7 friends

hahahaha, well well well, i havent thought it had people like me :P

•this way will way show you the coolest way .
•just go on msn and click forgot password and then go to thier secret question , if you dont know it, well then , go chat to them
•for example if they set what is the name of his/her pet , just go chat with them and flirt and say lies , for example tell them ur pet died or sum thin like that, and get all emotional , ask them how many pets you have any what is the name of your first pet name ,
•after you get his/her name just enter it in the secret question thingi and *bam* you just change their windows live password ,
•you go to facebook and then enter their email and click forget password , it will send the confirmation code and it will be sent to ur windoWs live thingi which you have access to, and then you enter it, and change their facebook password and login and you are on the way to enjoyment !!!!! :) :) * BY THE WAY I AM ONLY 13, NEVER WAS THOUGHT THIS ORIGINALLY CAME TO MY MIND*

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Amy

isn’t it illegal to pretend to be someone else, though? thats identity theft, technically. maybe you;re not supposed to see what on their profile for a reason…

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Inmate #7591253

I would say that these WORK…!

BUT BEWARE..! if caught, like I was, you’ll end up with a criminal record (be it just a caution) but be warned..

Thanks for the GREAT Info..! Shame I got caught :-)

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g-man

How did you get caught? u had a fake email didn’t u?

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F

the bottom line is people should be aware that the internet is a public domain and social engineering is rampant. kudos to your post! and to those critics you can go suck osama bin laden left nut!

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Muckabee

An observation:

A big reason why social networking sites are so popular is that they give us an illusion of control that real relationships lack.
This is why so many otherwise intellegent people post compromising material and are outraged when their “privacy” is breached.

I think we should question technology. Why not make an informed choice as to what works for you personaly?

If something promises something and it dosen’t deliver, it’s based on a lie. As most people would agree, a relationship that begins decitfuly won’t lead to anything positive.

When it comes to new technology, most of us behave like sheep.
We welcome every new development as an improvement.
We adapt our lives to fit the technology, and rarely question whether it really works for us or not.

Technology promises us more lesuire time to spend with people we love, and it makes us feel more in control of our lives and relationships.
Why is it that despite this promise, so many of us find ourselves spending hours of our lives alone, pouring our free time into maintaining online relationships that are often superficial and deceptive?

-Do you really have more free time than you once did?

-Are you closer to loved ones than you were in years past?

-Are you truly more proficient, creative and happy than you were before you bought your latest device?

I love the freedom of the internet, and I’m as intrigued as anyone else with new technology. What I question is the way our society seems to blindly swallow each new development as progressive and better.

Are we really this naive?

And did I really spend 15 minutes of my precious free time composing this post?
:)

Seriously, this is something I wish people thought more about…

0 votes

wow this is stupid?

i see how u work with all that psychological STUFF…
well guess what?
join the network that his in and friend request him :D
dat easy. and most ppl don even care who there acceptin

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Muckabee

soilent green is PEOPLE!!!

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Tyler

I was searching the net for a way to view private photobucket albums and finally found a service that works. They showed me proof 1st and I also got a free account. heres the link http://dwarfurl.com/b6c03 if you like this share it with anyone who wants or needs to view someones private bucket account cause it works 1000%.

0 votes

ShowBat

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Life

That’s nice
But I doubt the person I’m thinking of will fall for that
Also, there are some people whose accounts aren’t properly secured and if they are a friend of your friend, you can always go on some recent activity between them
For example: Your friend commented on the person you’re stalking’s status
Just click on their “Photos” box at the top and bingo! You have access to a few of their photos
It worked for me :\

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sookie

I came here looking for how to unlock but also came here to have some help:
There’s only one working site i know, but after 3 different persons profile views it does not unlock anymore? seems like there is a limit? anyway guys here is the site: http://private-fb-unlocker.blogspot.com/ thanks

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Krystal

This a great article, you have some great and smart ideas. But I have two questions. 1)Can you get in trouble for doing the second one like couldnt you get reported or something? 2)What if you can’t view your target’s friends list?
Please reply.

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Fake Friend

Hey, I was just going to ask that same question (Q#1) but you beat me to it. As for your second question: Yes, you can view anyone’s friends list unless they set it so that only friends can see it :)

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rob

well im just about to use this to find some scumbag that decided to rob me via ebay, i only have limited details i.e. his name and area where he lives, itll be handy to know what he looks like and maybe glean a few more details before i decide what to do next. ta ryan!

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ross

lol i have to try this some time. there are a few ppl in mind that i would like to see what they are up too. this method probably works best with ppl that have hundreds maybe thousands of friends. not just say 200 friends.

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rosette

It did not work for me especially even after I receive a reply to my message. I did not see any portion of the profile :D

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Facebookhacker2010

This method works for 2010:
howtoviewprivateprofiles.com

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John

I ran across this thread by accident, but there is another way I ran across a long time ago in the apps on facebook, whether it still works or not I am not sure, I haven’t done it lately and only found it by accident

if you simply send a friend request to someone and then log into an app they use (farmville is what this was found on) directly afterwards, it gives you the option to send them one of that apps “gifts” or “invites”, if they accept OR DENY the gift or invite, facebook immediately confirms your friend request (even if they denied your actual friend request)

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Geek Squad

There is a javascript code you can use….let me find it..

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osama

awesome…..and waht i wanna say to those criticizers is “shut up”

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benny

What I don’t understand is, why not just add them yourself rather then go through all this effort to be sneaky? I’VE found that 9 out of 10 people usually just accept friend requests. 99% of the ones that I’ve sent out have been accepted. You don’t really have a lot to lose by sending an innocent friend request. Besides, if you’re trying to get with a hot girl, do you honestly think that stalking her and being sneaky is going to get you anywhere?

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benny

Ok, i just clicked on the link howtoviewprivateprofiles.com and the method there works.

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rachelle

u are my best friend!!!!!

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Jörg-Anton Summerederer

It is illegal to make a fake Profile.
Know that you are commiting a felony.

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Tim Lenahan

Interesting article. The way I will look at this is that this should be a fair warning about how to keep yourself secure. As was said earlier, you’re never totally secure online and even if you do not share personal info about yourself, your friends may “let the cat out of the bag” anyhow (such as “happy bdays, etc.).

Do know how to react to friend requests and do understand the inherent risks of being online in the first place.

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Sharla

Those both are great ideas…..but facebook has many flaws I’ve come 2 find out …….there are actually certain time frames where u can go check a site out that’s private and ur actually able to get in and see most things that u weren’t able 2 the other day …but like he said they usually have it fixed or blocked the following day. But I just wait it out and keep checking back and eventually there’s a security flaw lolz