Why does Facebook recommend someone to me that it cannot know I know?

For the past four months Facebook has consistently been recommending one person to me. Unlike some other irregular suggestions this is actually someone I know, but I can’t figure out why Facebook would even know that I know this person.

Back when I still lived in Germany I spent six years doing voluntary work with children. The person Facebook is recommending to me is someone I interacted with on a weekly basis during this time with them being a fully employed member of staff. We co-organised trips, weekly groups and holiday events.

I don’t have many people from Germany on my Facebook profile. There are a couple I went to school with and a handful others from various groups of friends. They all don’t know each other or, even if they did, aren’t friends on Facebook. None of them has that person as a Facebook friend.

I changed my email address from Yahoo to Gmail in early 2004. I have never emailed that person with my Gmail account, they wouldn’t know my Gmail address and I don’t even remember my Yahoo login details. I also don’t have that person in my email contacts.

There are eight pages I ‘like’ on Facebook which mostly includes projects from friends, such as Operation Chastity or White Box Photography and Lost. We aren’t mutual fans on any of those. Additionally, my Facebook profile has barely got any information on it, for example it doesn’t include my hometown or school information.

I cannot figure out why Facebook would recommend that person to me.


Based on several replies on Twitter and in the comments it also can’t be any of the following:

  • I use a different and additionally abbreviated name on Facebook.
  • My profile is practically hidden.
  • My phone number isn’t on Facebook and has changed too much over the years for that person to know it.
  •  My profile is bare, no hometown information or school information or employment history. Again, I wouldn’t have the same as that person anyway as a vast majority of the work I did with them was on a voluntary basis.


  1. Sah
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    That is just spooky! Some link between your gmail address and your old email? I think Facebook had access to google’s data for a bit.

  2. Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Not really, there were some emails I forwarded, but that was it. Nothing with that person and also it would have just been a few random emails in 2004!

  3. thames_pilgrim
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Maybe he shared his email account information with the friend finder feature and that tagged him to you.

  4. Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    No, there’s not really any reason they would have my email. I’ve not been in contact with them since 2003 and have changed my email since.

    Not out of spite mind you, just didn’t really feel like staying in contact with them.

  5. Posted April 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps that person searched for you, found you, looked at your profile, but never bothered to Friend you.
    I imagine that must happen a lot, so they added some sort of “This person seems to know you.. either that or they’re a stalker!” thing?

  6. Posted April 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Have updated the post, can’t be the searching as it’s a completely different surname and additionally abbreviated.

  7. Richard
    Posted April 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Have you looked at this person’s profile some time in the past, so Facebook has noticed this and suggests the person to you? Otherwise perhaps if one or more of your friends have looked at their profile even if they haven’t friended them? Not sure if that’s how Facebook does things, but other sites have recommended people to me based on me looking at *their* profiles in the past.

  8. Posted April 20, 2011 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    No, I definitely haven’t looked at it before it was suggested to me.

    Also the only mutual friend we would potentially have on there hasn’t actually signed into their FB profile in over a year and FB has only recommended the other person since the beginning of the year.

    It’s all very strange!

  9. Posted April 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had facebook do that to me a bit. pretty creepy.

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