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How Facebook friend suggestions work

How Facebook friend suggestions work
Photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Facebook is a funny thing. It's great in the sense that you can connect with old friends and long-lost family members, but at the same time, that's what's awful about it. If there are certain people from your past that you would rather forget, Facebook could throw it in your face.

Just imagine the various scenarios: Here's your ex. We think you should be friends. Here's your landlord. Do you want to connect? What about your boss? Be friends!

It's no secret that Facebook uses algorithms to find people you might know, but how exactly do these algorithms work? There are a lot of factors at play here - it's more than just the friends you have in common.

Is Facebook suggesting you add your ex or a bad date?
That's an extremely bad idea, so why would Facebook suggest such a thing? It could be because their phone number is in your phone. If you sync your contacts with Facebook, that's why.

However, not everyone has given Facebook access to their contacts. If that's the case, chalk it up to lax privacy policies with third-party apps. Lots of mobile apps share data about you with no regard and no remorse.

Is Facebook suggesting you add your landlord, nosey neighbor or boss?
Your landlord or neighbor could have looked YOU up, which is standard for landlords and employers alike.

The other scenario is that Facebook realized that you are so close in proximity to each other for a good chunk of time each day. For example, it could see if you are connecting to Facebook from the same network. Facebook figures that if you live close enough to each other, or share an office, you probably know each other.

What about random group suggestions?
That could be due to faulty facial recognition. If Facebook suggests you add a group that you have no interest in, it could be because Facebook recognized - or at least thought it recognized - a friend's face in this group. And just like that, Facebook thinks that if your friends are doing it, you'll want to do it.

Are all these suggestions ready to make you quit Facebook once and for all? You aren't alone. Click here to see if you're better off without the social networking site.

Want to keep your friends list private? Here's how:

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Source: Slate
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