Facebook "People you may know": How did they know?

I keep getting friend suggestions for my ex-husband and his family. I KNOW facebook gets them via my kids, but NO…I don’t want to be friends with any of them. Stop suggesting them. I wish I could end the torture…

This feedback is not about the privacy settings per se, but more about privacy in the “people you may know” section. It’s extremely intrusive, esp when it suggests people whose profile that you looked at but don’t want them to know you were looking. Let me tell you my experience: I like this guy, but for many reasons (professional and personal) I do not want him to know I like him, so I’ve never friended him, nor he me. But I do check out his profile as I thought that there was no way that he would know I was doing that. I also wanted to learn more about his life, so I checked out the profiles of his friends and family as well, many of whom live in other countries. Again, I thought that this was harmless and safe. Then, suddenly, he and his family and friends started to show up in my “people you may know list” even tho we have no mutual friends in common, live in different counties and do not correspond via email or thru any other means. So fb is suggesting them to me strictly on the fact that I am viewing their profile. And if they are appearing in my PYMK list, surely I am appearing in theirs, which would be professionally fatal for me if he knew. So facebook, please stop this intrusive feature. I can understand sending me people with whom I share mutual friends, but if this person knows that I am doing this it could spell an end to our professional relationship. Pls stop playing with peoples lives in this manner. It might appear harmless to you, but it does have deeper implications for the people involved.

You checked out his friends and family too? That’s ah, that’s kinda kinky. :cool:

So did FB answer you? I bet they didn’t.

And this also could be why complete strangers might be suggested as “people you may know.” They could be people who got the phone number of someone you did know, but lost that phone number.

This forum and many others, as well as a continuing flow of articles in the media, continue to point out people’s frustration and displeasure with the intrusiveness, creepyness, and general ubiquity of Facebook and its tentacles. Fubaya points out that there are sites and companies that one can only contact via Facebook or Twitter. Keeping in mind that smartphones are only 8 years old, it’s astonishing that we are expected to not only have one, but to communicate via its two big media platforms, and sometimes ONLY through these platforms.
But from the point of view of someone who hasn’t yet been smitten enough by the benefits of Facebook or Twitter (i.e. I don’t use them), my general impression is that despite these complaints, people continue to participate, in the face of the incredible drawbacks that continue to emerge. If you really don’t like being connected to everyone in the world - intentionally or not - while all your personal information is mined for the benefit only of others, including marketers and government snoops - then think about unplugging. You can actually live like that.
Why do people continue to stay in abusive relationships?

Sometimes I will get curious about what an old friend might be up to and I’ll enter their name into a Facebook search. This usually brings up several possibilities. I will them often click on some of the more likely ones usually to realize “that guy’s not the Jim Bob Bumblepants that I am looking for, just someone that shares the same name.”

Then I may try the same search months later and, with hazy memory, I click on the name again.

Then, when I am looking at my friend suggestions, I see “Jim Bob Bumblepants” and I think, OK I finally found him. Then I click that link and realize it’s the same Jim Bob Bumblepants I realized I don’t know.

Meanwhile, the stranger Jim Bob Bumblepants is probably seeing my name on his friend suggestion link and he might click on my name. Thus, the cycle continues.

I am sometimes a little fascinated by the mutual friends listed on friend suggestions as I have Facebook friends that come from all different directions. Usually the mutual friends will be 2 or more hometown friends, two or more work friends but then I see the guy that’s mutual friends with my next door neighbor and a guy I worked with in Texas in 1980, or a guy that I take yoga with in NYC that’s mutual friends with a girl that lived down the block from me in NC in 1965.

Although this isn’t Facebook, the same thing occurs on LinkedIn. Twice on LI I’ve had suggestions of “people who may be connected to you…” (or whatever their version of that feature is) that included

  1. a former therapist whom I haven’t seen since 1998(!) and who definitely doesn’t exist in my email address book since we never corresponded that way, and

  2. a then-current GP who’s also not someone I’ve ever emailed.

I’m 99% certain I never searched for them on LI–definitely not the GP, although I did some research on her via Google at one time. I suppose I may have been curious about the shrink, too, years ago, but again, if I looked her up anywhere it would’ve been Google–and it would’ve been long before I signed up for LI.

Is that enough to trigger LI’s algorithm?

Edited to add: Forgot to mention that I don’t have a smartphone and have never viewed LI that way. The shrink isn’t in any of my phones’ address books, although the GP is, but only the name of her practice, which is a very large clinic attached to a hospital. In any event, again, these phones are dumbphones and aren’t connected to the web.

Recent article on the topic:

How Facebook knows who all your friends are, even better than you do:

Apparently, though, Facebook still had access to the reporter’s contact lists. That’s what the article implies. Without your contact list (or without your email and phone number), the algorithms have nowhere to start.

If you create an account with an entirely new email, provide no phone number, and use a public computer at, let’s say a library, that you’ve never used before, give totally bogus personal information, and just friend totally random people, will it still be able to find people you actually know?

For me, it doesn’t work well at all. I don’t have very many Facebook friends. About 20, I think. The people it thinks I may know are mostly friends of my friends. That might seem reasonable, but actually I don’t know any of them.

I’m kind of hoping to find old school and college friends, but I don’t have contact info for any of them, so I dont know where to start. Neither does Facebook, apparently.