How to view private Facebook profiles

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Pau Monfort
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People will try to leverage your private Facebook profile. Here's how private Facebook profiles work and the tactics they might use.

Until it became a huge data privacy issue. Now, the best privacy practice is to keep your Facebook profile private to protect your identity, your data and even that of your friends.

But for years, people have figured out how to know if someone's Facebook is private, how to access blocked Facebook profiles, and how to view a private Facebook profile.

So in this article we will explore how to view private Facebook profiles to help you stay safe.

What is a private Facebook profile

A private Facebook profile is an account that you cannot view without being friends. When you view a private Facebook profile, you don't see any information about the user and, in many cases, you don't even see a profile photo. The user has disabled all the settings of the public profile, making the profile not completely anonymous, but certainly more private.

In the early days of Facebook, there were several tricks that allowed at least a partial view of a private Facebook account. For example, adding someone as a friend once granted access to that person's Facebook page, regardless of their privacy settings.

Another solution was to change the Facebook profile URL to get access to profile pictures and other uploads. Third-party tools were also available at the time that could circumvent at least some of Facebook's privacy settings.

Thankfully, Facebook has shut down the vast majority of these backdoors and workarounds. The intense scrutiny that Facebook faces with regards to the privacy of its users makes it extremely difficult to access a private Facebook profile.

In this, the biggest vulnerability now is human connection: social engineering, weak passwords, and poor personal security.

How users see someone's private profile on Facebook

Even if you set your Facebook profile to private, it doesn't stop people from trying to view it. Worse still, setting your Facebook profile to private doesn't close the loopholes people can use to bypass your privacy settings. They are, after all, loopholes. The clue is in the name.

There are a few methods people will use to get into a blocked Facebook profile. Here's what you need to watch out for.

Fake Facebook friends

The simplest method is through a fake friend. These are users who understand how to see Facebook posts from non-friends.

Someone who desperately wants access to your private Facebook profile could create a completely fake profile to befriend you and gain access to your Facebook profile.

A fake friend profile will use commonly known details to trick you into accepting a request. For example, the (stolen) profile might feature a person of a similar age, have a similar set of interests and likes, or say they are from the same hometown, school or company; anything to create a false bond.

If someone specifically targets your account, they may use information found on other accounts linked to yours to create the illusion of a colleague in another department or a long-lost friend from elementary school.

The difficulty of spotting a fake Facebook friend depends on how you use your account. If you are already a very private person with a limited number of Facebook friends, it is easier to spot a fake request.

You can take control of your Facebook friends settings, including hiding your friends list and limiting who can send you a friend request.

App spyware

Once Facebook finally made it really difficult to view a private Facebook profile, those desperate to view private Facebook profiles have turned to more extreme options.

Installing spyware is one of those more extreme ways to view a private Facebook profile.

Spyware and, more recently, stalkerware installed on a victim's device can provide direct access to a private Facebook account.

Spyware apps aren't difficult to use. You can rest assured that it won't work unless someone has access to your computer or smartphone or tricks you into downloading spyware using a malicious email or link.

If someone uses a spyware app to view or mirror a Facebook account on a different device, it's hard to detect. Especially if the person spying is not making changes or modifying the behavior of the device.

Password theft

The third method to access a private Facebook profile is the direct theft of the password. The Facebook password creation rules are pretty decent. A minimum of eight characters is required, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

Even with that combination, users will be able to create the simplest password they can remember. If you have an easy password, it's also easy for someone to guess it.

The other problem is password reuse. If you reuse a password on multiple sites and one of them suffers a data breach, suddenly you have several vulnerable accounts. You may not even realize that your password is in circulation, such is the sheer volume of data breaches internet users face.

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