Facebook friend suggestions - how does it know???

Posted in the Facebook Forum

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whatinthe

Childs, MD

#1 Jun 11, 2009
You know that little box in the upper right corner where it will suggest people who you might want to be friends with?

Usually it suggests people who are friends of your friends. OK, I understand that.

And sometimes it will provide an explanation for why it is suggesting that person. I just saw a suggestion where it said "you went to University of XXX with this person."

But the scary thing is that I have seen quite a few suggestions for people who I know, but who aren't friends of any of my Facebook friends (I don't have too many Facebook friends to begin with). And Facebook doesn't explain why it is suggesting them. That is scary, how does Facebook know that I know those people?

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creeeeeppy

Doylestown, PA

#2 Jun 11, 2009
i just googled for the answer and came across your blog question first. i had the same issue, seeing people i know but do not have mutual friends. i just came across this article in my research.
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook...
hope it helps :)!
the internet is such a small world now.
Manny Goldstein

Ede, Netherlands

#3 Jun 12, 2009
I would also like to know much more about this feature.

I have only a tiny number of friends on Facebook and was really surprised at the suggestions made. Some were clearly from the small number of Friends that I did have, this was very easy to establish.

I thought that Facebook got some others by gaining access to my address book. I use a MAcBook and use the Address Book application. Strangely enough, when I checked some of the suggested friends I found that I had not included them in my Address Book.

This led me to consider whether Facebook could access my email application and take email addresses that I have sent or received.

Can Facebook do this?
Very strange

Saint Albans, UK

#4 Jun 12, 2009
This morning I have 2 really strange friend suggestions.

1. Someone we met on holiday 3 years ago. No mutual friends, different country, never looked them up on facenbook or anything!

2. Wife of an assosiate at work, again no mutual friends or even remote links.

Very very strange.

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Very strange - but

Saint Albans, UK

#5 Jun 12, 2009
Facebook can access your email contacts. Mine is actually a private email list but the two people above I hvae emailed in the past, so Facebook must have got my details from there email account. Strange that this has only just happened as certainly the first I hvae not contacted since about 3 weeks afer we returned from holiday so many years ago!
Ditto

Paris, France

#6 Jun 12, 2009
I'm very creeped out by this. I've done a cursory search on the Web for insight into how & why all of a sudden FB is suggesting a much wider spectrum of people from my past, but no luck.
If anyone has any verifiable info, please share. This doesn't feel right, and Facebook should provide an explanation ASAP.
Spies everywhere

London, UK

#7 Jun 12, 2009
I just had an ex boyfriend pop up in there and we share none of the same friends, I am very weirded out by this! Yikes!

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My theory

Longueuil, Canada

#8 Jun 12, 2009
My guess is that those other people looked YOU up on Facebook first. I had a guy pop up who rents the apartment I used to live in. He probably looked up my name after getting a bunch my mail.

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Ditto

Paris, France

#9 Jun 12, 2009
I've researched a few of these new Friend Suggestions and my best guess is that somehow FB accessed Yahoo contacts from an old Yahoo account I barely use anymore.(It has yet to propose contacts from my Gmail or MSN accounts, although it's probably just a matter of time.) Anyone else have the sense that their Yahoo contact list has been pillaged?
purple

Markham, Canada

#10 Jun 12, 2009
I think this is the most logical answer. This was my first thought.
My theory wrote:
My guess is that those other people looked YOU up on Facebook first. I had a guy pop up who rents the apartment I used to live in. He probably looked up my name after getting a bunch my mail.

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Ditto

Paris, France

#11 Jun 12, 2009
Unfortunately that doesn't apply to my case, purple.

One of these new, creepy Friend Suggestions was a guy I knew about 8 years ago who is not part of my FB network.

So let's say that that old pal did try to find me. If he tried my old e-mail address, that would not have worked because I've never associated that e-mail address with my FB profile.

If he tried by my first and last name, that would not have worked because I wouldn't appear in his search results.(My profile is private and set not to appear in search results outside of my network.)

In addition, I have a very common first and last name. If he did type my first and last name, then FB would suggest this friend all the many hundreds if not thousands of people with my name combo. Highly inefficient and unlikely.

No, there's something else afoot here. I hope FB or someone else comes clean about it ASAP.
whatinthe

Childs, MD

#12 Jun 12, 2009
Definitely some strange goings on.

Facebook is just a page you load in your browser, so it should not be able to access any data for any program on your computer (like the address book in your email program). And it shouldn't be able to access anything in your Yahoo/MSN/Gmail account, unless it knows your username/password.
SDbob

Honolulu, HI

#13 Jun 12, 2009
This just happened to me today...there's no way unless Facebook accessed my Outlook that it could have known to make those suggestions. I am really uncomfortable with this.
Manny Goldstein

Ede, Netherlands

#14 Jun 12, 2009
Based on the suggestions that have arrived as potential Friends, and the comments above, Facebook must have accessed my emails, both sent and received, to make Friend suggestions.

It cannot be making them based on my exisiting Friends and their Friends as I have so few friends it is easy to look at them and their Friends and the suggestions include many others who are not in that group.

Unpleasantly, one of the names included a Friend who died in a plane crash, so his is unlikely to have looked me up.

It is rather disconcerting to know that Facebook may have access to all the email addresses that have sent or received mail from me in the past.

If I was to allow an application on my Facebook profile, then could that application developer get access to such information as well? Could they also get access to similar information for all my Friends?
WLefon

New York, NY

#16 Jun 13, 2009
I too have been having the strange friend suggestions. Thus far they have been:
** an ex whose info ( including all emails both sent & recieved as well as email address) I erased over a year ago.
** a few online buds who DO NOT have my email address or know my real name.
This leads me to believe that facebook is doing more than looking into our friends and our contact list. Ironically it's all happening in the past few weeks. And even more so today my facebook was back to normal. My friends suggested had all been connected to people I know. Clearly facebook got caught doing something wrong and have quietly corrected it. They still need to explain what has been going on.
AgreeWithComment s

Whitchurch, UK

#17 Jun 14, 2009
Hi

I googled for this phenomenum as I had recently (in the past week) seen this behavioour in my Facebook account - the person recommended was someone I knew a few years ago, not connected to any of my networks or friends, and not even in any online address books.

the only possible way Facebook could have connected us was through saved emails sent and recived from my Yahoo account several years ago(Ok unless it was a coincidence or he looked me up) That is really scary as that means FB somehow got access to my actual MAIL folder (as I dont even have a Yahoo contact list)!!

As others have said, this was very new behaviour recently as before I have only ever got friends of friends or people from work/uni networks...
Another weirded out user

Dallas, TX

#18 Jun 14, 2009
I just noticed this week two friend suggestions that aren't at all associated with any of my "mutual friends." These two people are family members. Both have FB accounts, but neither have done anything with theirs...one has about 5 friends, and I wasn't friends with any of them! For years, I've retrieved all of my mail with Outlook and don't even use the webserver. Though, I have accessed the webserver years before, in which these people are listed there (but now with different e-mail addresses)... these are the only two folks that have popped up though, and there are others on my webservers contact list that have FB accounts but have yet to show up. Strange!
HRD

Ashburn, VA

#19 Jun 20, 2009
I promise you...It suggests a buddy of mine who has never surfed the internet until recently, and he is "afeard" of the internets. He hangs out with me all the time and swears he's never searched for me and has no knowledge of my email address. Somehow, this shit just knows...magic.
HRD

Ashburn, VA

#20 Jun 20, 2009
ahhh...just read the article posted earlier...it works on "degrees", ala degrees of separation. Like friends of friends. Makes sense.
shocked

Montebello, CA

#21 Jun 20, 2009
I just saw my ex in my suggestions.. wft.. i am shocked!! I never looked at his page or anything.. and we have NO FRIENDS in common!!! Awkward

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