How does Facebook pick your suggested friends?

2 min read

The better question may be, why is Facebook recommending I friend someone they couldn't possibly know that I know?

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that Facebook collects and uses any private information you share with it. But what you're probably not aware of is that Facebook also collects info you aren’t sharing with it.

Because of the networking site’s ‘Suggested Friends’ feature, users are slowly catching on to this disturbing truth. Landlords, former flames, and people who interviewed you for jobs years ago are showing up on the 'People You Know May Know' list, and it's becoming more and more apparent how much Facebook knows about you.

We decided to get to the bottom of it, and find out how exactly the list is determined.

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According to Facebook, the list is comprised of "people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you’re part of, contacts you’ve imported and many other factors".

While the platform is vague about exactly what "many other factors" entails, here's five things we do know about 'People You May Know':

1. Facebook doesn't use location data for the list

You meet someone new, and the next day they pop up on the list. It has to be because Facebook knew you were physically near them, right? Nope. Location data had been used in the past for the list, but after public backlash, was stopped.

2. You may not have imported contacts, but your friend may have

The reason your landlord, whose number isn't even saved into your phone, may be on the list is because your number or e-mail is saved on their phone and they synched their contacts with Facebook.

3. If you’re stalking someone, you will show up on their list

Get ready to cringe – it seems that the scary theory that if you stalk someone, you'll show up on their 'Suggested Friends' list is true.

4. The list will only get creepier

According to Facebook spokesperon Ana Brekalo the list's algorithm is a work-in-progress.

"We continuously update the People You May Know algorithm to make it better and more relevant for people."

And more creepy, she forgot to add.

5. Tinder isn’t sharing your matches with Facebook

As unbelievable as it is, experts believe Tinder isn’t sharing details of your matches with Facebook. A software engineer with experience with both Facebook and Tinder told Complex Tinder doesn't even talk to Facebook again after you've logged in.

RELATED: Soon you'll be able to make a 'private comment' on Facebook 

"It seems highly suspect they’d actually be sharing that info with Facebook, and I don’t see what benefit it would serve either company." 

He said it's more likely the matches are appearing on the list because you've searched for and viewed their profiles. Or the reverse – the match may have searched for and viewed you.

Anyone else feel very uncomfortable knowing these new details? We do.

Written By Sangeeta Kocharekar
Sylvester Stallone Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

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