Yes, Your Online Dating Matches Do Show Up In Your Facebook ‘People You May Know’
Anyone who’s ever swiped right has probably seen their OKCupid, Tinder, Grindr or other online dating matches appear in their Facebook ‘People You May Know’ sidebar. And then felt a little freaked out by this! Yes, the people with whom you’ve matched in online dating do sometimes appear in the People You May Know field on Facebook. There’s a reason for that. It doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook is “going through” your online dating app to mine for data, but it does mean you might want to reevaluate some of your Facebook settings and habits.
Facebook insists they do not pull data from other apps. I’ll take them at their word. But there’s a simple exercise you can do that shows Facebook does something every bit as alarming as pulling data from your other apps. And you already agreed to it, and you can’t opt out of it.
Want to see something terrifying? Click here. This is called your “Facebook Invite History”, which is funny because you probably never invited any of these people to Facebook. But there you have it — gobs of personal information on hundreds of your friends that they didn’t hand over to Facebook… you did. (Don’t worry. Tons of people have done this to you too).
Facebook regularly syncs with all the contacts on your phone and all the emails in your Inbox. You agreed to this when you signed up for Facebook, and it’s not negotiable. The only thing you can do is delete the contacts you imported to Facebook, and do so on a regular basis.
The People You May Know section on Facebook is partially generated from these regular scrapings of the contacts on your phone and your email account. Essentially, anyone who you’ve called, texted or emailed can show up in this area. So when you and your online dating match hottie switch numbers and “graduate” to actual calling or texting, you can then be identified and placed in one another’s People You May Know section on Facebook.
Sometimes you haven’t even exchanged numbers and the person still shows up in your People You May Know. This is probably attributable to a complex Facebook feature called social graph that maps all of everyone’s behaviors and finds little similarities and overlaps to suggest connections. It also shows you former co-workers and college chums, but the OKCupid and Tinder people are the ones that stand in your memory and wig you out a little more.
If this shit freaks you out, the best thing I can recommend is the read Violet Blue’s The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy, an excellent how-to on cleaning up the privacy settings on your social media, online dating, email and other online accounts.