The Process by Which Facebook Suggests Friends
Ever gone on Facebook and realize that you are getting friends’ suggestions for a contact you just met? It’s creepy and makes you wonder just how much Facebook knows about you. Facebook suggests friends for you based on different criteria including people you have lots of mutual friends with, your location, education information and your work info too, your contacts, those you share groups with or share photos with.
This article seeks to explain why Facebook does this, and how you can reclaim your privacy if you are uncomfortable with the amount of information Facebook has on you.
Table of Content
How Does Facebook Suggest Friends?
Does Facebook Suggest Friends for You Based On Your Phone Contacts?
Yes, Facebook does use this as a way of showing you people you may know. No wonder you see a friend online shortly after you meet them and get their phone number. They will also see you as a friend suggestion if you allow Facebook to sync your contacts, so while you are freaked out, they are probably freaked out too at the possibility of Facebook knowing you two just met.
You can stop this feature by going to Settings on your Facebook app, scroll down to sync contacts, and click on remove.
Does Facebook Suggest Friends for You Based On Location?
In 2016, Facebook explained that they used location data to suggest friends to users. They however retracted this a few days later leading to a series of investigations that proved they used very accurate location-based techniques to suggest friends to users.
You can protect your privacy and deny location access to apps on your phone as Facebook could still get your location through third-party apps. You can also change the location settings on your phone entirely. Another way to stop Facebook from tracking your location is to delete the app and rather access the platform using a browser like Safari.
Using a VPN is a great way to hide your location and protect you from having your location data abused if you are uncomfortable with it.
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Does Facebook Suggest Friends Based On Who Looked at Your Profile?
Even though there is no evidence to prove this is true, it makes sense as searching for someone is a way of showing you have an interest in that person. So Facebook’s algorithm may use this as a criterion to suggest friends.
Some users point out that some friends whom they have not been in contact with for many years, and have no friends in common suddenly sent friend requests some weeks after they searched them up and viewed their profile on Facebook. The odds here are either the person suddenly remembered the friend, or Facebook used the search to suggest this friend.
How to Turn Off Facebook Location
- Open your Facebook app
- Click on settings
- Scroll to ‘Privacy’
- Tap on location services and put your ‘location tracking’ off
You can still allow Facebook to track your location even if you are not using the app. This is possible through the ‘background location’ option. For the sake of your privacy, keep it off.
Note that you are not entirely free from Facebook’s tracking system even if you have put off your location services as Facebook has recently admitted to this. They do this with an approximating mechanism based on the information you share or what you do on Facebook services. They also rack you based on the information they get from other firms that sell people’s location data. All of these make it seem that no matter what you do, you can’t seem to hide from social media.
You could gain control of your privacy by spoofing your location with a VPN so the algorithm will think you are connecting from somewhere else. Confirm this by checking your IP address before and after and you will see that it has changed.
A more extreme but permanent approach towards regaining your privacy is to delete and reactivate Facebook messenger, or your Facebook account completely. If you are more concerned about some people finding you on Facebook through Facebook friend suggestions, you can prevent this by blocking them.
Effects of Facebook Friends Suggestions
Facebook friends suggestion is a breach of privacy and has its negative sides, but it has also proven to be useful.
A man who was robbed once lost his phone together with his wallet and other personal belongings that had his data on them. Fortunately for the victim, he saw his attacker on his Facebook ‘people you may know’ section and this led to the arrest of the culprit. This is a positive side to the story, but how about the negatives?
In 2017, sex workers were concerned about their safety when their clients were getting information about them from Facebook as they were appearing on ‘people you may know’ suggestions. In another scenario, a psychiatrist’s patients were recommended on Facebook to one another and it could lead to a very ugly situation with cases of patients turning against their psychiatrist.
You can say the People you may know the feature is great on Facebook as it helps you connect better, but you can’t overlook the security challenges it poses too.
The way Facebook suggests friends has been an intriguing topic in the minds of many, as they often wonder if there is a form of sorcery involved. It’s shocking to meet someone briefly and then get home to find the person on the list of people you may know.
How did Facebook know this and most importantly, is my privacy secure? There is a lot of tracking going on on the internet and the platforms all say this is to ensure a better customer experience but are you up for it? Beef up your security through the use of a premium VPN like LimeVPN which heavily encrypts your data and keeps you anonymous all through.