Facebook FanCheck application writer disputes claims that it is malicious

The creator of the Facebook FanCheck application has claimed that it is non-viral, safe and legitimate.

In an email interview with IDG News and featured by PC World, Janakan Arulkumarasan claimed that it contains no malware.

He said: “FanCheck is not a malicious app. Unfortunately, some malicious developers have been spreading a lie that it is - and encouraging people to download fake virus scanning software, which damages their computer. This is very unfortunate, but it has nothing to do with us.”

He also denied that Facebook had asked him to take the application down. He explained that it works by calculating who a user's biggest Facebook fans are by counting the number of times they interact with your profile, by writing on your wall, posting comments, ‘liking' posts and so on.

Arulkumarasan said: “[It] then ranks friends in order of how often they interact with your profile. It does not measure page views, photo views or anything which doesn't involve a wall post - so simply viewing someone's profile won't get you on the list.”

Users can tag their friends in their ‘fan' list, so that a thumbnail image of the screenshot gets posted to their tagged friends' profiles along with a link inviting them to install the application. A thumbnail image is also broadcast to the friends of those tagged friends.

PC World claimed that Facebook has reviewed the application and has not found it to contain malware, according to a Facebook spokesman. It also claimed that the FanCheck page on Facebook stated the amount of users had dropped by half from 12.5 million monthly active users to 6.4 million and had been reviewed almost 6,000 times and received a low average rating of 1.6 stars out of a possible five stars.

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

However Arulkumarasan denied these claims, saying: “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.”

David Harley, director of malware intelligence at ESET, said: “It seems that Facebook has not yet reviewed the way in which notifications have been sent: hopefully when they do so, they'll determine whether the anomalies that some people have reported are due to FanCheck, and whether further action needs to be taken.

“Arulkumarasan has admitted, according to PC World, that he's not a ‘very experienced programmer'. Whether the curious effects that some Facebook users have noted are accounted for by a bug in the code remains to be established.”

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