Facebook wants to reveal your name to the weirdo standing next to you | Cyber Security

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Not entirely unlike dogs socializing via their nether regions, ’s latest idea is to wirelessly sniff out people around you and make friend suggestions based on what it finds. Only it’s slightly more intrusive than how dogs do it.

The patent, which got the go-ahead last month, is like the current People You May Know feature sprouting legs and trotting up to random strangers who have the awesome good luck of finding themselves in your proximity.

Does Facebook need yet more technology for this? It’s not as if it’s not already adept – to put it lightly – at rummaging through our everything to find ties that bind.

Take, for example, the interview published by Fusion editor Kashmir Hill a few years ago: it was with a father who attended a gathering for suicidal teens. The father was shocked to discover that following the highly sensitive meeting one of the participants duly appeared in his People You May Know feed.

The only thing the two people seemed to have in common was that they’d been to the same meeting.

According to Hill:

The two parents hadn’t exchanged contact information (one way Facebook suggests friends is to look at your phone contacts). The only connection the two appeared to have was being in the same place at the same time, and thus their smartphones being in the same room.

Hill said that Facebook’s response gave her “reportorial whiplash”: first, it suggested that location data was used by People You May Know if it wasn’t the only thing that two users have in common, then said that it wasn’t used at all, and then finally admitted that it had been used in a test late in 2015 but was never rolled out to the general public.

Introduced in 2008, People You May Know has been both remarkably accurate and extremely opaque about how it makes friend suggestions. As in, “the networks that you are a part of, mutual friends, work and education information, contacts imported using the Friend Finder,” and the murky kitchen junk drawer of “many other factors.”


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