The Algorithm Specs Behind Facebook’s
“People You May Know” Suggestions
We’ve all seen it, that horizontal scroll pane in our Facebook news feed titled People You May Know.
I’ve always found it odd why it would list people I have no mutual friends with. Not only did we not have mutual friends, they live in another state, therefore it is unlikely we used to have mutual friends.
It made me start to wonder why Facebook was shoving these seemingly random people in my face, and I started looking for answers. The truth I discovered, will shock you.
In the past, Facebook’s algorithm for connecting people was heavily hinged on the location you voluntarily posted on your account, where your Pc’s IP address located you at, or your phone’s GPS locator. Using this tech, Facebook found out where you were and then presented other people in your general location as possible “friends” to add.
In an interview last October with Recode’s Kurt Wagner and Jason Del Ray, a Facebook spokesperson stated that the social networking site no longer uses location pings or services in their algorithm for friend suggestions. Instead they use interactions online, from your computer and your phone.
In the interview they said, “The other person may have been looking at your profile or may have recently added you to their phone’s contact list.”
That’s right, the unknown individuals in your People You May Know might be people who have been Facebook stalking you. This also means that if you’ve been Facebook stalking someone, your profile is now in that person’s People You May Know suggestions.
Furthermore, if someone adds your cell phone number to their phone contacts, Facebook will suggest you add that person as a friend.
When asked if both parties had to have each other’s numbers in their phones before Facebook made the suggestion, the spokesperson replied, “No.”
That’s right, even if you don’t know the person or have possession of that person’s number in your own phone, but they have yours, Facebook will suggest you add that person as a friend.
Facebook uses other criteria to suggest friends to add, including pages that you have liked and other shared interests the both of you have added to your profiles.
It’s somewhat creepy to know that those seemingly random people with whom you have no mutual friends with that Facebook wants you to add as a friend, may actually be someone who has been viewing your Facebook profile, or worse yet – has added your phone number to their mobile device.