CS and the City Sean Lynch

Dear Facebook, I’ve got all the friends I want thanks

When Facebook first added the “Friends You May Know” section on their homepage, I was relatively impressed. It did a good job of finding people in my social group. In the end though, I only found one or two people I had not yet added myself. After that, it was another useless piece of the homepage sidebar trying to get me to pimp Facebook to people I know; Invite Your Friends (aka Spam Your “Friends”) and Find Your Friends being the others (Even the ad slot is a friend inviter half the time).

The problem with the Friends You May Know feature wasn’t in the graph algorithm, it was with me. It was indeed identifying people I knew, but knowing them was not the same as being friends with them. I called it the People I Know, But Don’t Really Like box.

To fight back against The social graph analyzing Man, I started hitting x next to each of the recommendations. As I did I would battle back the algorithm as it ran out of new recommendations for the day, only return a few weeks later with a group of people I was a little less connected to. Slowly but surely the recommendations became meaningless. Until it finally hit rock bottom.

Yesterday, Facebook recommended Jessica to me. It explained that we both went to the same University so surely we know each other. Jessica and I had absolute no mutual friends. Not one. I was surprised that algorithm had become so desperate for me to grow my social graph that it had begun resorting to recommending complete strangers. I wondered what other strangers homepages were recommending becoming friends with me, or maybe I was the only one so hostile towards the recommendations.

I knew all of its efforts would be fruitless. I had already realized what the algorithm or the clever coder behind it simply did not consider: I had no more friends. Facebook has done such a good job that my friends list was simply, complete. I could imagine the meeting in Facebook HQ where some quiet intern asked “What happens when they run out of friends?” only to have their question waved off. “Inconceivable!”

Well I’m here to tell you Facebook, I have reached that state. Facebook – Please quit bugging me to add friends, I will as I make new ones. Instead, do something really cool with all that sidebar space. I’m sure you’ve got some great ideas.

And have some self-confidence. Just because my Friend list is growing does not mean I’m jumping ship for Twitter any time soon.