Can You Turn Off Friend Suggestions on Facebook?

by Micah McDunnigan
Facebook's friend suggestions help Facebook collect more user data.

Facebook's friend suggestions help Facebook collect more user data.

Facebook's friend suggestions may have been useful in building up your friends list when you first joined the social networking site, but once you have actually friended all your friends it can seem like unwanted clutter. While you may want to turn off friend suggestions from Facebook, it is actually a useful tool for Facebook's own data gathering and network analysis efforts.

Built-In Feature

Facebook's tool for suggesting people you may know is a built-in feature which you cannot turn off. It is part of Facebook's interface just like ads or your news feed. While Facebook will not always display a box with friend suggestions, you cannot stop the service from appearing at all.

Social Network Analysis

Facebook doesn't just act as a platform for connecting with other people online. The company actively collects and analyzes the data you create whenever you use Facebook. Facebook is a social network, and the data you and Facebook's other billion or more users create makes a rich dataset for social network analysis. By analyzing your connections and actions on Facebook, the company can make predictions about your interests, behavior, and how close you are to each of your Facebook friends.

Data Usage

Facebook uses the results of its data analysis in a number of ways. It uses your data to pick the stories it thinks will interest you to display on your news feed, rather than simply presenting a deluge of stories from every friend and group you are connected to on Facebook. From a business standpoint, this data also helps Facebook display the ads on your account on which they believe you are most likely to click. This is important for the company, since they don't make as much money when you don't click on the ads they display. It also improves your experience as a user, as you see only ads that might actually interest you.

Friend Suggestions

Suggesting friends to you helps Facebook with its data collection and analytics in two ways. First, it gives the company a way of refining its algorithms for predicting which users who aren't currently Facebook friends would know one another. Each connection you make on Facebook also expands the amount of data Facebook can collect. The more data Facebook has, the more detailed analysis and accurate predictions it can make.

About the Author

Micah McDunnigan has been writing on politics and technology since 2007. He has written technology pieces and political op-eds for a variety of student organizations and blogs. McDunnigan earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Davis.

Photo Credits

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