Fact Check

Facebook FanCheck

Information about the Facebook Fan Check virus.

Published Sep 15, 2009

Virus:   Facebook Fan Check


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2009]

URGENT!!!! APPARENTLY THE FAN CHECK THING IS A BAD VIRUS THAT TAKE 48HRS TO KICK IN!!!! EVEN IF YOU ARE TAGGED IN A PHOTO THE VIRUS STILL GETS TO YOU!!! PLEASE INFORM ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND REMOVE/DELETE IT ASAP!!! COPY & PASTE THIS AS YOUR STATUS TO WARN OTHERS. There is another one.... The two apps are called Fan Check and All My Friends.. those are the actual names of the two apps I would not download.

NEW VIRUS ON FB using YOUR pictures. It says you've been tagged
in a picture, wants you to click on a link to see it. Then hacks into YOUR
computer & ALL YOUR ACCOUNTS including BANKING & other secure accounts. It
DESTROYS YOUR COMPUTER. Once hacked into your comp; it sends e-mails to
your friends telling them they have been TAGGED in pics & starts the
process again. PLEASE RE-POST URGENT!


Origins:   The FanCheck application for Facebook has created some problems for Facebook users, causing their walls (and other portions of Facebook) not to display properly. Contrary to warnings like the one reproduced above, however, FanCheck is not a "virus" — it does not download or install anything on users' PCs, it does not harm computers, and it cannot be "caught" by visiting a Facebook page. As noted on the Facebook message board:


The Fan Check application is NOT a virus. It does, however, mess up your 'Wall' and other parts of Facebook — not by destroying information, but because it doesn't work properly your wall and other parts of Facebook won't display correctly. It doesn't do any damage itself.

The fix for the problems Fan Check [can] cause are simple — remove it, and everything will go back to normal.

The developer of FanCheck (formerly known as StalkerCheck) also denied that the application contained some form of virus or malware:

"FanCheck contains NO malware," Janakan Arulkumarasan said in an e-mail interview with IDG News Service.

Facebook has reviewed the application and hasn't found it to contain malware, according to a Facebook spokesman.

Many Facebook members have left messages in the application's page complaining that FanCheck disrupted their Facebook profiles and their PCs as well.

The developer challenges these accusations. "In general, applications can never damage your profile or PC unless they ask you to install something on your computer. FanCheck does not, and never has asked people to install anything on their computer, although it did require Adobe Flash to work," Arulkumarasan said.

As of now, Facebook is still listing the Fan Check application as "unavailable," with a notice stating that "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." Of FanCheck's unavailability, PC World observed:

An informal review among some IDG News Service staffers who have received Fan Check notifications in recent days suggests the application may be offline

because it may have engaged in practices to market itself that Facebook frowns upon or outright forbids.

For example, Facebook members seem to get tagged in a Fan Check album of some sort without their permission and without even having installed the application. That photo-tagging action is then broadcast to their friends' profiles via a thumbnail image titled "Fan Check Photos" with a message saying that the person in question has been tagged. This would appear to be a type of deceitful and spammy notification strategy that Facebook has tried to clamp down on because it annoys and confuses its members.

In a bizarre twist, however, a form of danger is associated with trying to avoid the supposed FanCheck virus. As noted by Sophos, although FanCheck itself may not be a virus, a number of fraudulent sites purporting to offer information about the "Facebook Fan Check Virus" have sprung up — sites that trigger the display of phony virus infection warnings and attempt to lure users into installing and paying for dubious anti-virus software:

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 displays 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.

The bogus warnings look near identical to previous fake anti-virus software attacks that we have seen in the past — with a scrolling green progress bar and a list of alleged threats found on your computer displayed in a dramatic red colour scrolling up.

It's an irony that would be amusing if it weren't so despicable — people who are concerned about trying to avoid a non-existent danger are being sent straight into the path of real danger.

Last updated:   15 September 2009


    Farnsworth, Amy.   "Is Facebook Fan Check a Virus? Careful Whom You Ask."

    The Christian Science Monitor.   14 September 2009.

    Fu, Lily.   "Is Facebook Fan Check App a Virus?"

    WLUK-TV [Green Bay].   15 September 2009.

    Perez, Juan Carlos.   "FanCheck Developer Defends App, Says It's Not Malware."

    Network World.   8 September 2009.

    Perez, Juan Carlos.   "Sophos: Searches About Fan Check App Can Lead to Malware."

    PC World.   8 September 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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