am i infected?
September 14, 2009 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Is the FanCheck application on facebook a virus?

My friend posted this on my page:
"Apparently the FAN CHECK Application is a VIRUS that takes 48 hours to kick in. Even if you are tagged in a photo the virus still attacks you. Please inform all you friends and remove/delete the application ASAP. Copy and paste this as your status so word gets around"

The friend is not sure if it's true or not, just wanted to pass it along to me.

The fan check app tells you how many people comment/like/write on your wall and pictures. I did it, and noticed that it definitely wasn't totally right. One of the people in the top fans list I wasn't even friends with anymore on facebook, but didn't really think twice of it. I just went to the app page because I wanted to remove it just in case, and it just said "The application "Fan Check" is temporarily unavailable due to an issue with its third-party developer. We are investigating the situation and apologize for any inconvenience."

Anyone know if it's a virus, and if yes, what will happen?

As a side question - I've never heard of virus apps on fb before, how would I tell the difference in the future? How good would facebook be with getting rid of them, anyone know?

Sorry if this question makes you think "some people are idiots and shouldn't be using the internet." Technology isn't my strongest forte.
posted by KateHasQuestions to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
If the Fan Check app is a virus, it is a virus affecting the Facebook software and servers rather than your local computer. Facebook apps don't execute code on your local machine, so even if you run it on your FB account your PC isn't at risk. The idea that it could infect you just by being tagged in a picture—which is a mechanism totally internal to Facebook with no meaning outside that site—is a little bit silly.

That said, I certainly don't install many apps on my own Facebook; who knows what these vendors do with the information they gather?
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:26 PM on September 14, 2009

I haven't used Fan Check, but as smm says, apps don't execute local code. There's no way that someone tagging you could cause you to become infected.

However, apps can load pages external to Facebook through an iframe. If you have an unpatched browser, you could potentially acquire an app by using a malicious app. But that's a little unlikely here, since the message is clearly misinformed on a major technical point.

My guess is that this is viral only in the guerrilla marketing sense. Someone got mad at Fan Check and decided to start this urban legend.
posted by justkevin at 4:48 PM on September 14, 2009

Copy and paste this as your status so word gets around

Ironically, this part is the virus.
posted by smackfu at 4:49 PM on September 14, 2009 [11 favorites]

From PC World:

"The phrase 'Facebook Fan Check Virus' is currently a hot trending topic on Google, with many net users searching for information. However, hackers have set up websites pretending to be about the 'Facebook Fan Check Virus,' but which really host fake anti-virus software which display bogus warnings about the security of your computer in an attempt to get you to install fraudulent software and cough-up your credit card details," Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote on Monday in his blog.
posted by limeswirltart at 4:57 PM on September 14, 2009

The risk with a web app like facebook is that someone figures out how to break the boundaries of privacy you establish.

There were vulnerabilities found recently which take advantage of the way information is shared with facebook apps. A facebook app can see any information about your facebook friends that you can see. That means that if your friend installs a malicious app, it can mine data that you share with that friend but not the general public, and then send that data to the app's authors.

Fancheck is an SEO scam. They set up their pages to be the top google hits for "fancheck virus", spread the rumor, and now if you go to those pages they attempt to install their malware. Do not go to the web pages that come up near the top of a web hit for this search phrase.
posted by idiopath at 5:01 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fancheck is not a virus. Don't worry about it.
posted by kylej at 5:25 PM on September 14, 2009

The app is unavailable now: The application "Fan Check" is temporarily unavailable due to an issue with its third-party developer. We are investigating the situation and apologize for any inconvenience.
posted by exogenous at 6:59 PM on September 14, 2009

Response by poster: thanks all!
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:21 PM on September 14, 2009

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