Facebook has been playing with their friend suggestion algorithms, and people are starting to notice. Last week FB suggested I become a friend with one of the participants in my research. I am pretty liberal with accepting friend requests, but that is a line I try not to cross. But what surprised me was that we have no common friends and have no other common interests or memberships on the site. But in the end my own reaction was mostly one of curiosity – what data sources led them to make this match?
But I’ve also seen recently that some people are reacting with outrage. Here’s from a discussion list I saw today:
It turns out I’m not the only one to notice these recent changes. When FB was just suggesting friends-of-friends, it was pretty easy to figure out how the suggestion was made. Or FB would tell you how it made the match: “You and Brandon Walsh both went to West Beverly High School.” While FB may actually be improving the accuracy of its predictions (in all these cases, it did predict real contacts, although maybe not “friends”), it also may be straying too far to the creepy side of social networking. It wonder if the unease will persist, or if it’s another “people will get used to it” situation.