Facebook stalkers may be outed

The days of anonymous stalking on social media website Facebook could be numbered.

The website has introduced a change that lets users identify who has visited any group of which they are a member.

But the UK's Independent is reporting suggestions Facebook may unfurl the technology across the whole site.

That would be likely to see levels of online snooping plummet, with users deciding to avoid the embarrassment of being found out for an "online curtain-twitch".

On its blog last week, Facebook said the ability to view who had seen each post on a group would enable users to stay updated on the group's activity.

"For example, in your soccer group you can post the new practice time and then see who got the update."

Commenting on the snooping problem in Psychology Today, Los Angeles clinical psychologist Seth Meyers said men and women were emotionally regressing at rapid rates, morphing into adolescents with a romantic infection where jealousy and paranoia were the symptoms.

When interested in someone romantically, men and women were obsessively checking their romantic target's Facebook page, wall, pictures, posts, and statuses. Once a relationship got under way, the obsessive-compulsive checking got worse, he said.

But the worst of the "Facebook OCD" Meyers saw happened when romantic relationships ended.

"One of the hallmarks of Facebook OCD is the fact that, after all the obsessive thoughts about his or her romantic target and the compulsive checking on Facebook to keep track of the former crush's daily life, the checker feels worse: ashamed of the lengths he or she has gone to, and feeling empty, sad and alone."

Women's website Jezebel said, for now, the ability to identify group viewers would only have an impact on a limited area of the site, but in future it could "make the beloved shametivity of Facebook stalking a thing of the past".

Facebook has more than 900 million active users, while each day more than 300 million photos are uploaded to the site, and 526 million people log in, up 41 per cent from a year ago.

Fairfax Media