Facebook: ‘We’re Not Using Location Data to Suggest People You May Know’

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In a report from Fusion yesterday, a Facebook representative said that the social platform’s “People You May Know” feature shows you “people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you’re part of, contacts you’ve imported and many other factors.” Included among the “many other factors,” the rep also explained, was location data.

This may not be quite right: In an email to Select All, a Facebook representative says that location is not a factor in how the company suggests people to friend:

We’re not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know. We may show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you are part of, contacts you’ve imported and other factors.

This is, as the spokesperson acknowledged to us, a contradiction from the original statement given to Fusion. So where’s the confusion? A Facebook source told Select All that at one point, city-level location data was a factor in the friend-suggestion algorithm — but it only temporarily, among a small test group, and never rolled out to the general public.

So, while the “other factors” remain unclear, here’s how to turn off location tracking on the Facebook app, just in case.

For iPhone users, head over to “Settings” and then tap to “Privacy.” You’ll see “Location Services” at the top of the screen with a blue-and-white arrow icon. (The same one you see at the top of your screen if you have location services turned on.) You’ll be shown a list of your apps in alphabetical order. Scroll down and select “Facebook.” From there, you’ll be shown three options: “never,” “while using the app,” and “always.” To fully disable the function, you need to tap “never.”

*This post has been updated to include new information from Facebook.