facebook people you may know

How Does Facebook Suggest Friends?

3 Mins Read

NCSAMHow Does Facebook Suggest Friends?

Have you ever wondered why the stranger you ran into pops up on your Facebook as a friend suggestion?

Facebook Friend Suggestion works in a way that may be considered invasive and creepy by many, especially since the service is ill-famed for tracking users’ data and location, which advertisers can target.

Location tracking seems to be the primary source of friend suggestions, previously known as “People You May Know,” among other common factors like phone contacts, mutual friends, and your friend’s list on other social network apps.

How do you get a friend’s suggestion on Facebook?

A couple of days ago, I came across an intriguing case where a man got robbed. The person who stole his smartphone, along with his wallet, which had the man’s personal information, appeared in the man’s Facebook feed under the ‘suggested friends’ section.

The culprit currently sits in jail, which is excellent, but now this sparked a question in my mind. Isn’t that strange? This led me to do some research with my colleague, who is a cybersecurity expert.

After a couple of days of investigation with our colleagues, these are the two possible scenarios that made the most sense:

  1. Facebook was tracking their location. Ok, this is no myth. They have previously admitted to doing that. But in this particular case, it was showing a stranger that the man had crossed paths with.
  2. The robber looked the man upon ‘Facebook people search.’ Call that dumb or curious, but mugging the man in the first place was never a good idea. Well guilty as charged, we have all been involved in Facebook stalking before.

Furthermore, Facebook is also notorious for suggesting users who have no mutual friends, no common interests, or shared the same physical space, which prompts me to think that the Facebook app could be using mass surveillance amongst other technologies tracking every movement of its users.

Colin Ma, Director of Engineering at Finli, studied Facebook’s Friend Suggestion algorithms for 6 months in a lab at his university, and this is what he has to share:

It’s not a coincidence that the man who robbed the gentleman showed up – one thing that Facebook uses is geolocation to suggest matches. Since they were right next to each other for a certain amount of time and it was just them two, the algorithm guesses that they had some sort of relationship, and thus prompted the idea that they are friends.

Source: Digital Software Products

How to Turn Off Friend Suggestions on Facebook?

  1. Launch the Facebook App
  2. Go To ‘Settings
  3. Tap on Notifications
  4. Now Turn Off the Notifications you want to avoid

How to Turn Off Location on Facebook

  1. Launch the Facebook App
  2. Go To ‘Settings
  3. Scroll Down To Find ‘Privacy
  4. Tap on Location Services and switch off ‘Location Tracking.’

Pro Tip 1

You can choose to allow or disallow Facebook to track your location even when you’re not using the app with the ‘Background Location’ option.

Given Facebook’s recent scandals, I would recommend you keep it turned off.

Does Facebook Track its Users’ Even When They Have Location Tracking Disabled? 

Unfortunately, this seems to be true. Facebook has recently admitted to tracking its users’ even when they have their location tracking disabled.

How, you may ask?

Well, they use an approximating mechanism based on information shared and activities performed on Facebook’s services. Moreover, Security Boulevard reported that shady tracking firms are selling your GPS location history.

Is it impossible to hide your location when using social media then?

Pro Tip 2

You can spoof your location and let them think you are sitting at the other end of the world. Check Your IP once you have chosen a location of your choice, you will notice that your IP has changed.


If you’re privacy-aware and tired of being under 24/7 Surveillance by Facebook and don’t want to see those faces again and again, you might consider deleting/deactivating Facebook Messenger or deleting your Facebook account altogether. You can also get rid of those annoying people by blocking them from Facebook if you don’t want to delete your account for this sake.

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