People You May Know are people on Facebook that you might know. We show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you’re part of, contacts you’ve imported and many other factors.None of this explains why this person appeared on my suggested friends list. Around mid-2016, a number of outlets began reporting concerning behaviour by Facebook with regards to suggested friends. MamaMia collated a bunch of rumours and reddit theories in this article, Forbes floated a couple of theories here, but the creepiest by far was this report from Recode, published in October 2016. In it, writers Jason and Kurt revealed a number of highly suspicious coincidences; for example, Jason walked past an acquaintance, no dialogue passed between them, and just hours later Jason appeared in that person's recommendations. Here's another, probably more relevant to my story:
Jason met with a company spokesperson he hadn’t previously met. Within a few hours, that person appeared at the top of Jason’s recommendations.So the guys from Recode asked Facebook some questions, and these are some selected answers:
- When finding recommended friends, Facebook doesn't use your location.
- It does use your phone contacts (if you've elected to share them with Facebook or Messenger).
- It doesn't use your calls or text messages (unless made through Messenger, I assume).
- It doesn't use your email.
- It doesn't gather information from any third-party websites, so I assuming Google is out if LinkedIn is out.
All of that information can be found here. The article was published by Recode.net on October 1 2016, and the article was written by Kurt Wagner and Jason Del Rey.
If we take those answers by the Facebook spokesperson as the truth, how did they come up with my former psychologist, a man I haven't spoken to since 2014, as a friend recommendation? If I look back, I checked into his medical centre 3 times on Foursquare (I've since deleted those check-ins). This doesn't really hold up, because there were 10-20 other doctors working out of the same facility. I have 3 email chains with his name listed, all from 3 months in 2014. I've deleted every tweet I have posted pre-2016, and I would never have tweeted about this. So here are the 4 possibilities I can see:
- I was featured in this article about exercise addiction in December 2014, and the psychologist provided quotes and insight for the piece, but we didn't speak about that, nor did I have any contact with him during or after the writing process.
- I recently posted this story about my own mental health battle, and the importance of psychological intervention if someone is struggling mentally. It's possible he read the post somehow and googled or Facebooked me. I believe this to be incredibly unlikely.
- Facebook may have access to parts of my life I deem private, such as my email account and my Messenger conversations. .
- I have posted about it on social media and plain forgot. This seems unlikely, I don't know under what circumstances I'd share that I was seeing an eating disorder psychologist unless I mention him in a blog post somewhere, and a quick search of this blog reveals I've never used his name in any post..