After great FB paranoia, a formal feeling comes
February 4, 2017 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I am past being creeped out and now am ... perplexed. OK a little creeped out too. An educated guess/or even a bit of knowledge might help. So... Can you please tell me how you think FB might have "decided" to urge towards friendship with the following two insanely unlikely people from various points of my life?

Like everyone, I get dozens of unexpected friend suggestions. Most of them make me say "huh" and forget about it. I can trace the way we might be connected in some FB algorithm somehow... ie their FB friend is my email friend, or we have an emailing history, or whatever. But sometimes I just can't parse it. Can you put in your two cents on these two that make no sense?

1. The man who mows my lawn. No mutual friends. Never emailed. He lives a couple of towns away. We have texted briefly to arrange things, but only one of us has an iphone. Did FB track that he is at my house twice a month? FB is pushing him hard, like
2. This next is the one that prompted me to waste a question: MY KIDS' FORMER PEDIATRICIAN FROM A DECADE AGO, he practices in a hospital-based pediatric group in a different state from where I live now. I have not lived in his state for a decade. We went to this guy for less than a year, no mutual friends, no mutual anything, I doubt I ever emailed him and even if I did, I no longer have any of the same emails, phone #s, address, etc. that I had back then.
What do you think?
posted by flourpot to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
At some point, the guy who mows your lawn looked YOU up on facebook, therefore making the connection. No clue about the pediatrician.
posted by missmary6 at 7:43 PM on February 4, 2017 [21 favorites]

As for #1, it's possible he (or you) allowed the Facebook app to access his phone contacts. If Facebook knows your phone number, it can link you up that way.
posted by zachlipton at 7:44 PM on February 4, 2017 [17 favorites]

Did you ever leave a recommendation or review of the pediatrician on any site that has a "log in with Facebook" option?
posted by erst at 7:55 PM on February 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's also possible the pediatrician looked you up to see how your kid is doing.

How big is your city? Is it possible it's just numbers?
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:05 PM on February 4, 2017

I was curious about this a while ago and set up a new account, with a new email address. No suggestions. Then I gave it my phone number (but no access to my phone book). A load of suggestions appeared, who were all people I know, so I assume those people gave FB access to their phone books and they all had my number in it. So I guess your lawnmower-man still has your phone number saved somewhere. Or your email. The paediatrician is more of a mystery, but I'm guessing he has all his contacts saved somewhere and there's something that hasn't changed in those ten years.

(Aside - part of the reason I did this was that it kept suggesting my ex boyfriend's new girlfriends as friends for me... I ended up adding one of them and we are good friends now!)
posted by intensitymultiply at 11:15 PM on February 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think this is a creepy side effect of Facebook's algorithm. Nothing more.

My guess is that you know others who've used this paediatrician, and Facebook has connected you to him through those other connections. The same goes for the lawn guy -- who possibly also has your contact details which Facebook can use to point him to you.

The first answer on Facebook's community forums might help explain.
posted by popcassady at 4:08 AM on February 5, 2017

No answers here, but a very similar thing happened when my Mom up for Facebook. At first, she had a total of three friends including myself, didn't grant any access to contacts, doesn't own a smartphone, & there were no commonalities linking her to her landscaper/snow removal guy and her dog groomer, neither of which have websites or Facebook business pages. There was no indication she even owned a dog on her profile, and their services are not used by other people she knows. We were a bit weirded out because she doesn't even email either of these gentleman. The only thing we could figure that would connect the two is her bank's bill pay, which freaked us out, but life happened, and we didn't investigate it further. I still don't have an answer for it, and every once in awhile it nags at me, but intensitymultiply's answer makes the most sense to me.
posted by katemcd at 6:18 AM on February 5, 2017

I know somebody who noticed Facebook recommended the barista at a coffee shop he visited one time, while out of town. The only think he could figure was location - FB connected them because they were both in the same place at the same time for more than a few minutes. That would explain the lawn guy, especially if he also has your phone number in his phone and FB has access to his contacts.

The doctor - I have no idea. It's probably a lot more innocent than it seems though.
posted by COD at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

At some point of the Facebook / messenger connection process I think I granted permission to my phone contacts, and from there I have gotten various one-date acquaintances as recommendations.

It's hard to know what exactly happened for you because they are always experimenting, trying things on 1% of accounts, etc.
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2017

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