Facebook “People You May Know” = “People Who Stalked You”

Facebook “People You May Know” = “People Who Stalked You”

If you visit someone?s facebook profile, someone you are not friends with, you?ll appear in their People You May Know. Is this fine?

Warning, this might be fake news. I?m a developer, I?m not a journalist, and I have no proof. But I think it?s weird. Also, it?s not very important.

Theo is the founder of Moviing , an online yoga and fitness platform. Use promo code MEDIUM25 for a 25% discount on membership.

How it started

About eight months ago, I started noticing something. The story starts with a match on tinder (#success #I?mthatlame). I don?t know her, I have no friends in common with her, nothing. I did nothing to find her on facebook or anything like that, nothing. A few hours later, I check my facebook feed and boom, this girl?s profile appears in the ?People You May Know? (let?s call it PYMK) section. Seeing this, two things cross my mind (in that order):

1. ?Cool, let?s check her out!?

2. ?Wait, that?s f****** weird isn?t it??

What happened?

Couple days go by. I meet with a friend of mine who works in a data science consulting firm. I tell him about the tinder/PYMK story. He thinks it?s weird too and investigates with his coworkers to find out how this happens.

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Below are the three most plausible explanations:

1 . Tinder gives/sells facebook ?matches? data with personal contact or email data ? Not so plausible

2. Logging in to tinder with facebook, you implicitly agree to give that kind of data to facebook?? ? That seems weird

3. That girl searched for me online, found my fb profile and checked it out (totally accepted stalking behaviour btw). Facebook uses this data in its ?People You May Know? algorithm and pushes her profile on my feed. ? Data consultants preference


Then not much. I start paying attention, turns out many matches end up in my PYMK section. I stop stalking people I don?t know as I?m afraid they?d understand I stalk them. I have no way to be sure that facebook uses this data in their People You May Know algorithm but I?m cautious.

Jane Doe: the real estate agent

4 months go by. Soft confirmation of our theory is around the corner. Here?s how: I live in London. I look for apartments online in Paris. One seems quite cool and I call the real estate agent in charge on her mobile. Her name is Jane Doe. I hang up and then nothing again – at least on my side. The next day, I check my facebook and guess who?s there in the PYMK section? That?s right, Jane Doe!

This time, no doubt, the ONLY way facebook could suggest that we may know each other is that she went on my facebook profile, and that facebook uses this data in their PYMK algorithm.

Who cares?

It?s true. After all, if you stalk someone, there is a fairly high probability that you know each other. So it makes sense that facebook uses that. I would say half of my friends don?t care. The other half thinks its f***** up. Why? Because unlike Linkedin where everyone is cautious, everyone on Facebook think they can stalk privately.

The only thing this changes is that now you know when someone visits your profile, and they don?t know you know. I?m not saying everyone in your PYMK visited your profile. But if you have no connections in common, then for sure they visited your profile. Is it also true for people you have connections with? It?s ok to think so.

Maybe I?m weird, but I think it?s cool. I like knowing who visited my profile. I feel like it gives you a little advantage (#I?mthatlame). 10 years ago, we all wanted to know who visited our profiles, until we understood facebook was ?serious? with our privacy and wouldn?t let that happen. Turns out you can in the end ?

Voil, c?est tout.

Theo is the founder of www.moviing.co , a yoga and fitness live streaming platform. Use promo code MEDIUM25 for a 25% discount on membership.

Good reads:

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Facebook to roll out global privacy settings hub — thanks to GDPR

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said major privacy changes are coming to the platform later this year, as it prepares?



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