Keep Track Of Who Facebook Thinks You Know With This Nifty Tool

Image by Jim Cooke/GMG

Facebook is constantly examination you. Now, we can watch Facebook back. Gizmodo Media Group’s Special Projects Desk is releasing a apparatus for people who wish to investigate a crony recommendations Facebook chooses to give them. It’s called a “People You May Know Inspector.” To use a tool:

  1. Download a app installer on a Mac computer. (This won’t work on a smartphone or non Mac.)
  2. Once you’ve downloaded a app installer, open it and duplicate a PYMK Inspector app to your Applications folder
  3. Go to your Applications folder and open a app. You should see it cocktail adult in your charge bar.
  4. Go to Inspector settings and enter your Facebook credentials. (For those who have two-factor incited on, you’ll need to enter your second cause a initial time we run a app.)
  5. You can exam that it is operative rightly by clicking on ‘Run it now.’

Why we done this:

Facebook’s “People You May Know” underline has consistently confounded and weakened users in a decade that it has been in existence: A informed face pops adult in a box, yet we have no mutual Facebook friends with a person. How did Facebook figure out who your second-grade clergyman was? Why is your ex’s new girlfriend’s mom there? How does Facebook know who your gynecologist or psychiatrist is?

We’ve created a lot of stories about People You May Know—PYMK, as Facebook likes to call it—trying to figure out some-more about what’s inside a algorithmic black box. What is fascinating about a underline is how many ways Facebook theoretically could couple people, given a outrageous volume of information it has: plcae information from their smartphones, Wi-Fi networks they’ve used, IP addresses they’ve sealed in from, a hit books of millions, that accounts they’ve looked during on Facebook…

The association says it especially relies on uploaded contacts, mutual friends, and common networks (like schools or jobs)—yet it also says that there are dozens and dozens of other, vague kinds of information it might use.

Even if Facebook has given we an forward (or harmful) recommendation—as when it exposes sex workers’ genuine names to clients or refers a doctor’s patients to any other—the association won’t uncover we a information it used to make a connection. (Sometimes Facebook itself seems confused about how accurately a underline works.)


Since Facebook won’t plead a submit it uses, a choice is to investigate a outlay it produces: to lane your crony suggestions and see how they change from day to day. By looking during recommendations or patterns of recommendations, it’s probable to find connectors that Facebook’s open explanations won’t cover and to try to figure out how they happened.

We done a PYMK Inspector app (download link) to capacitate Facebook users to do this. Once we download it to your mechanism and enter your Facebook credentials, it will check your “People You May Know” suggestions each 6 hours and save that information to your computer, so we can examination who has seemed there, and when, and how often.

We designed this apparatus with your remoteness in mind. Your Facebook cue and any information collected from Facebook are stored on your computer. Only we have access. We accumulate no data, yet if we see something (or rather someone) interesting, we’d adore to hear from you. We done it open source; here is a couple to a source formula for a tool. We also consecrated a confidence examination from Trail of Bits.


We’ve been regulating a apparatus given a commencement of a summer. Testing it internally, we’ve already unclosed some bizarre things. It’s how one of us detected Facebook was recommending an different relative. And we’ve documented a fact that some people don’t have any crony recommendations during all. The “People You May Know” procedure doesn’t seem for a editor Tom Scocca, not sprinkled via a site and not on a Friend Request page where it appears for everybody else.

Though Tom doesn’t see a apparatus anymore, he still appears in it. He was endorsed to us as a friend, usually one time, in a center of June. (We didn’t crony him. Sorry, Tom!) While we indeed know Tom, he usually seemed in PYMK that one time, since other people we don’t seem to know have seemed there day after day, for months during a time.

Now we’re mouth-watering we to join us in a research. If you’re extraordinary about how Facebook is tracking your possess connections, greatfully download a tool and start study your possess results. If we see something we can’t explain, or something Facebook shouldn’t know, tell us about it. With your help, maybe we can see a small some-more clearly into a black box.

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Posted by on Jan 11 2018. Filed under Gadgets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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