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Facebook has never specified the exact methods it uses to present friend suggestions within its "People You May Know" tab, but a new report by Fusion suggests that a shared GPS data point could be a bigger factor in curating friendship than Facebook wants users to know.

A nameless source told the site that he suspected the social network of digging into his location information to curate potential friendships with parents who had attended an anonymous meeting for suicidal teenagers.

When a fellow parent appeared on his People You May Know section -- without any shared contact information or interests -- he double checked the privacy settings of Facebook in his iPhone to prevent the app from "always" sharing his location. As far as he could tell, the sole factor in common between the two Facebook users had been the similar GPS location at one of the meetings.

Still, when Facebook was reached out to provide a comment, the company confirmed that location data, by itself, is never used for the purpose of presenting friendships on the social network. While this could be potentially useful for connecting with people you might forget to exchange contact information with, Facebook also realizes the potential for a breach of security if you happen to be visiting somewhere more private.
"People You May Know are people on Facebook that you might know," a Facebook spokesperson said. "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."

"Location information by itself doesn't indicate that two people might be friends," said the Facebook spokesperson. "That's why location is only one of the factors we use to suggest people you may know."
Although the company has given no suggestion at making its use of geolocation more overt, law professor Woodrow Hartzog believes its automatic setting is something "that people should be given explicit and multiple warnings about." If you want to double check your own iPhone's privacy settings, visit the Settings app > Privacy > Location Services > and scroll down to find Facebook. Three options are available for security customization, including "Never," "While Using the App," and "Always."

Update: A Facebook spokesperson has reached out to MacRumors with the following statement:
"We're not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know. 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."

Article Link: Facebook Promises That Location Data is 'Only One of the Factors' in Friend Suggestions [Updated]
 

Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
7,441
Silicon Valley, CA
Of course a random law professor feels people need constant reminders about everything. To suggest otherwise would make it harder to push for a frivolous lawsuit.
 

HatMine

macrumors member
May 31, 2016
88
104
C:/
This is why I don't let apps like Facebook use my GPS; Because they shouldn't need it. Google Maps and whatnot though, that's another story.
 

smacrumon

macrumors 68030
Jan 15, 2016
2,683
4,010
Facebook: once a tool for social networking, today a tool for social advertising, a glorified piece of spyware with a brand name slapped on it. Most new software attempting to do what Facebook does would be rejected by the App Store review process for certain.
 

ryancgoodfellow

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2015
12
33
What a load of bull. I've been showing my apartment for rent here in Montreal. People came from LA and they were never added as a contact. Yet they consistently appear as my friend suggestions. So either they are mining my locations, or they are mining my iMessages, because there is nowhere else they can get that information.
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
1,695
2,860
Definitely don't load the app on your iThingy's, it becomes Facebook's tracking ankle bracelet, and stay off the site as much as possible - the company strip mines your personal information for any $$$ they can get.

I have some friends who still use it and have to go through the site when talking to them - but I use a dedicated browser that I don't visit other sites with for that (Facebook adds tracking cookies to see where you go on the web with the browser you visit FB with...course the browser is better than the app for user monitoring, but that's not saying much). JMHO...
 

Mr_Brightside_@

macrumors 68040
Sep 23, 2005
3,553
1,750
Toronto
Facebook: once a tool for social networking, today a tool for social advertising, a glorified piece of spyware with a brand name slapped on it. Most new software attempting to do what Facebook does would be rejected by the App Store review process for certain.
Did Tim ever get back to you?
 

cerote

macrumors 6502a
Mar 2, 2009
843
269
What a load of bull. I've been showing my apartment for rent here in Montreal. People came from LA and they were never added as a contact. Yet they consistently appear as my friend suggestions. So either they are mining my locations, or they are mining my iMessages, because there is nowhere else they can get that information.


Yea my manager keeps showing up in my suggested friends. Funny thing is I don't have her last name in my phone, which shouldn't matter as I don't allow access to my contacts but who knows with Facebook. I don't have mutual friends. And the kicker is she doesn't even live or work near my office. Her office is 2 states away. Also I don't have my work listed.
 

Hustler1337

macrumors 68000
Dec 23, 2010
1,829
1,574
London, UK
Seriously, why do people still use this app?
I stopped using Facebook almost 10 years ago when I realised it's full of people who feel the need to compare their lives with others and impress others with their fake lifestyles.

Of course a random law professor feels people need constant reminders about everything. To suggest otherwise would make it harder to push for a frivolous lawsuit.
Frivolous? I don't know about you but for many, an app covertly monitoring their location is a serious breach of personal privacy. Yes, you can disable it and not use the app at all, but the average Facebook user doesn't even know their locations are being mapped out and sold. It's Facebook, not the CIA.
 
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makr

macrumors regular
Feb 16, 2016
172
159
Seriously, why do people still use this app?
I don't really understand those ask this question. It's a must for connecting some, I have lots of friends living in overseas, and it's the most appropriate way to keep in touch with them without texting them 20 times in a day.
 

Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
7,441
Silicon Valley, CA
I stopped using Facebook almost 10 years ago when I realised it's full of people who feel the need to compare their lives with others and impress others with their fake lifestyles.


Frivolous? I don't know about you but for many, an app covertly monitoring their location is a serious breach of personal privacy. Yes, you can disable it and not use the app at all, but the average Facebook user doesn't even know their locations are being mapped out and sold. It's Facebook, not the CIA.

"Covertly" even though you choose the setting yourself. The world doesn't have to endlessly coddle the willingly uninformed all the time. Next what? Suing because you feel like you didn't understand what you voted for in an election because you didn't bother to know what a candidate you chose stands for?
 

twocents

macrumors 6502
Mar 31, 2016
323
1,679
California, USA
I've noticed that if you use the mobile site instead of the app that battery life does noticeably better and no space is taken up. The app which weights in at 100+mb had at one point grown to over half a gig. Can't imagine the type of info about you being kept
 

sudo1996

Suspended
Aug 21, 2015
1,496
1,182
Berkeley, CA, USA
Use this app?? Don't you mean why do people use Facebook..! It's evil scumb that using you to make billions.
Cause I need it so I can send messages to people and get invited to stuff. But I don't have the app.
[doublepost=1467138819][/doublepost]
I don't really understand those ask this question. It's a must for connecting some, I have lots of friends living in overseas, and it's the most appropriate way to keep in touch with them without texting them 20 times in a day.
You don't need to use the app to do that.
 

Carlanga

macrumors 604
Nov 5, 2009
7,112
1,392
Facebook: once a tool for social networking, today a tool for social advertising, a glorified piece of spyware with a brand name slapped on it. Most new software attempting to do what Facebook does would be rejected by the App Store review process for certain.
Not they won't.
 

sudo1996

Suspended
Aug 21, 2015
1,496
1,182
Berkeley, CA, USA
I stopped using Facebook almost 10 years ago when I realised it's full of people who feel the need to compare their lives with others and impress others with their fake lifestyles.
Besides groups, people seem to use it as a forum to post random junk, usually clickbaity sites. And they'll announce if they started working somewhere. Maybe it's different in the UK ;)
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
What a load of bull. I've been showing my apartment for rent here in Montreal. People came from LA and they were never added as a contact. Yet they consistently appear as my friend suggestions. So either they are mining my locations, or they are mining my iMessages, because there is nowhere else they can get that information.

More likely, the people from LA looked you up on Facebook (and probably other places) to see if you were an axe murderer type :)

Their interest in you could easily trigger a friend suggestion, seems to me.
 
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avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,940
3,843
This makes a lot of sense now. I've often wondered why the guy who was the general manager of a resort in the South Pacific where my wife and I went on our honeymoon years ago has periodically shown up as a friend suggestion on Facebook. They must have GPS datapoints going back to at least 2009, which is when we were at the resort.

I don't believe that they have never used only GPS datapoints to make friend suggestions because as far as I can tell, the only thing that guy and I have in common is that I stayed at the hotel he used to manage, which is halfway around the world from my home.
 

sentiblue

macrumors regular
Aug 2, 2012
226
157
Silicon Valley
I knew about the location factor a long time ago....

I regularly go to a pool hall. Multiple people at the pool hall use FB there like I did.
Now I have absolutely no idea about some of the people being suggested to me... until I recognized one of them at the pool hall...

Then I checked the rest of the "unknowns".. Sure enough, most of those people show up at the joint on a regular basis, and they all stare at the phones as frequently as I do.

As far as I know with absolute certainty, the only common things those "suggested" people have to me is that location. Nothing else... So yes I figured out long time ago that FB suggests people that come in close proximity on a regular basis.
 

Cineplex

macrumors 6502a
Jan 1, 2016
741
2,012
I don't really understand those ask this question. It's a must for connecting some, I have lots of friends living in overseas, and it's the most appropriate way to keep in touch with them without texting them 20 times in a day.

Can't you see that this is not a tool to connect you to your friends? This is a product that is designed to turn you into another product. You are making other people rich as they sell your personal information, habits, location data, web browsing habits, and God knows that else! How are you benefiting here? They know more about you than you do! Where is your share of the revenue? Zuckerburg is laughing in your face all the way to the bank. Convenience should NOT be a reason to sell your soul to the devil. All you are doing is to help the rich build a world that makes them richer while you stay trapped forever in the dream of consumerism. Can you not see where the future is going here?

Let me tell you a story. I deleted my first account and did nothing for a year. The next year I created a new account with the same name but fake details, fake location, fake job, & nothing else to see what would happen. I even used a different location on a different computer. The system was struggling trying to suggest friends....couldn't suggest anyone I knew (for obvious reasons). Then I uploaded a profile picture...BOOM...all my old friends were suggested the next time I logged in. Pretty scary stuff, especially considering that my prior account was supposedly "deleted". Clearly not. That was all the proof that I ever needed that Facebook was not a good idea.
 
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