How Facebook Finds and Suggests Friends
Have you ever been weirded out by one of Facebook’s friend suggestions? Here’s how Facebook knows who you know
Part of being a Facebook user is having to put up with the platform’s endless friend suggestions, scrolling through lists of people Facebook believes you know. This has led many to question how Facebook makes these connections, and whether they are encroaching on users’ privacy. How can Facebook possibly know you bumped into that guy at the coffee shop last week? Or that you’re looking into hiring that young college student? Despite these often too-coincidental suggestions, Facebook is not as creepy as it seems.
School and Work Connections
Whenever you enter your current or previous work, and school associations into Facebook, the platform takes that data, and uses it to find people you may know. With a complicated algorithm, it figures out who you may have interacted with at these given locations. It links you first to those who attended the same schools, or worked at the same jobs. Then, it determines whether your time at school or work may have overlapped with these people. So, when that coworker from six years ago pops up on your suggested friends list, feel free to blame Facebook’s excessive data mining.
Facebook also looks at who you are friends with, and who those people are friends with, to get a better sense of your social network as a whole, and where you fit into it. For example, if your friend Joe is friends with someone named Julie, and Julie goes to the same school as both of you, Facebook will likely recommend Julie as a friend, because of these overlapping factors.
The Larger Social Network
The final step to Facebook’s information gathering is creating a set of probable social structures using statistics. These networks are made from predictions that revolve around where your friend groups are, based on work, school, and location, and how different people fit into these groups. Facebook determines which connections are most likely, based on the algorithms created by these predicted networks.
While Facebook’s “suggested friends” may seem too creepy to be safe, Facebook is, in fact, guilty of nothing more than really good math! If you want to protect yourself, and your device, from the Internet’s actual dangers, download PSafe Total. Its antitheft and antivirus features can prevent hackers from encroaching on your personal information and data.