If you’re a Facebook user, this has probably happened to you: a person you may have met only once pops up in your “Suggested Friends.” Or an ex you’d rather not see. Or a former teacher. These connections can be downright creepy in their knowledge of you, but how does Facebook find that information? Conflicting reports this week suggest that your location may play a factor — or not, depending on if you believe Facebook.
In a report on Fusion.net, a Facebook spokesperson seemed to say that, indeed, location is a factor in how the social media site finds your friend recommendations.
“Location information by itself doesn’t indicate that two people might be friends,” they said. “That’s why location is only one of the factors we use to suggest people you may know.”
However, the company soon backtracked and denied using your location in this way.
“We’re not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We may show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you are part of, contacts you’ve imported and other factors.”
So, which report is true? Facebook rarely reveals how its algorithms work, so it’s difficult to know for sure. However, there’s no doubt that Facebook knows a ton about you whether or not it uses your location data, so it’s possible it could make creepy friend suggestions even without that info.