3 times Facebook has genuinely scared me

Facebook privacy suggested Friends scary
Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Its Friends recommendations border on spooky.

There's no doubt Facebook is a wonder of engineering, a site that brings on vast amounts of data for a user despite it being scattered throughout data centers and external sources. No question, Mark Zuckerberg and crew have engineered a marvel.

But there are times when it really spooks me. 

It comes with friend recommendations. Somehow, this site has the capacity to recommend people that I know in real life but have absolutely no online connections to whatsoever. It's happened so often it can't be a coincidence, either. Three recent examples come to mind: 

Example 1: While closing the suggestion box for recommended friends, up popped the name of my acupuncturist, whom I haven't seen in six months. She is not in my Outlook contact list, only on my cellphone. Now, I frequently share stories about holistic news and have my naturopathic doctor among my friend's list, but why of the dozens of acupuncturists in northern Orange County did she come up?

Example 2: By and large, my Facebook page is friends and family, and I keep work out of it. I only have three fellow tech journalists on my page and we never share our stories, it's all on the personal side. Now, I've done countless stories based on Gartner research, but why did two analysts I've repeatedly quoted over the years pop up on Facebook, out of Gartner's hundreds of analysts? They aren't in my Outlook contact list since I suffered a crash and loss of all contacts a few months back. Nearest thing I can think of is Facebook is crawling the web and finding my articles quoting them. 

Example 3: This is easily the spookiest. Ten years ago, I lived in the Marina Del Rey region of Los Angeles. I was thrilled when a genuine Tuscan-style restaurant run by a chef from Florence opened right down the street from me. This was the real deal, not pasta with red sauce. That's New York Italian food. Anyway, one of the waiters was a young Italian who was an aspiring actor. Wow, a would-be actor working as a waiter. Don't see that in LA very often.

Anyway, we lost touch when he left the restaurant and I moved to San Francisco in 2006. I had not seen him or talked to him in 10 years. The last time we spoke, Facebook was an outline in Zuckerberg's mind. Just one month ago, in the People You May Know box, there he was. My jaw dropped. I'd always wanted to reconnect with him. How could Facebook know?

Got a spooky Facebook friend recommendation? Or an idea what's going on? Share it below.

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