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How does Facebook determine which Friends appear on your Facebook Profile sidebar?

Why do some Facebook friends appear more often on your Facebook Profile sidebar. Is there a known reason why some friends picture will show up more than others in the facebook sidebar?

215 Answers

A mix of factors:

1- Who you have recently or in the past frequently interacted with i.e. like, poke, commented etc.
2- Who has viewed your profile
3- Who is online currently on facebook. Everytime this certain guy that I don't interact with at all is always on my sidebar but he is always online on facebook chat. Because he is online, Facebook want me to interact with him as he can interact back immediately.

That's my experience.

The people on the left side bar, are the people who view your profile the most!

i'm quite sure it is based on who has been viewing your profile...not all the friends, but 3, 4 or 5 of them at least, with some being random.....i was that curious that i made a note of my side bar list for about 10 days....!LOL

so one thing i noticed (and maybe you want to check it on yours too) is that everyday, there are 3 friends on the list that were there the previous day..always just 3...strange??

(oh i forgot to say i've noticed that the list changes every 24hours) so no matter how many refreshes i do during the day the same 10 folk come up but just in different order....

i have 2 friends that dont use facebook a lot.....i think one of them is profiling me a i stopped looking at their profile months ago.... .so i notice when they are online as i see their activity in the ticker bar....then next day they appear on my sidebar....uncanny eh?.....and they even clarified this the other day by texting me saying they liked my pics i'd put up!!....this tells me they viewed me and voila the next day after they have been on facebook this person appears on my list.....they only go on about 2 or 3 times a week.

another name that pops up all the time is someone who has given up using facebook, they pop up about 4 times a week, thats a strange one, we have no private messages or hardly interacted, but was tagged together in a few photos.

also, i never use facebook none of the above is relevant to who you chat too, as it is always turned off for me.

so for me, i would summarise that its a mix of who's profile viewed you, 3 freinds from the previous days list and a couple of other randoms that i've not quite figured out yet....

if you're a bit nerdy and curious like me, you'll make your own sidebar log for 2 weeks and post your results on here when completed:)

ps.....interestingly today has been the first day where i have 2 completely different sidebar lists? i dont know why?
i noticed list 1 this morning...made a note.....then later on a completely different list? (list 2)

after an hour or so, it went back to list 1, then back to list 2, and now list 1 again......this is the first time i've noticed this for weeks??

also, lets not forget we have no idea what data facebook really collects, it was only a year or go that google got caught collecting private data..

im not totally sure that this is true but i heard that it is the people who visit your profile the most i revisited it about 5 times and had the same people every time just different order
my head

When im offline, the friends that are on the sidebar is the same people for like awhile now. Weeks.. Only once in a while 1-2 friends that are replaced. But those 1-2 friends that replaces the previous, are from the ones that have i.m'd me or just chatted with kind of thing. The friends that are on that offline chatbar, most of them i am interact with a bit, through post, comments, likes, etc. So it could possibly be people that you interact with the most? im hoping they are the ones who view my profile because there is this one guy i like that is on there :) I have only liked few of his status but commented him twice. So we rarely, have interaction on fb. But i do check his profile too LOL >.< a girl can hope the friends on the chatbar/sidebar viewing her profile LOL :P But curious to why when im offline, those alphabetized friends that are on my chatbar?

I think it is actually quite sinister in some ways. It's a game. For the drama. The matrix at work to drive some people crazy as they see ex boyfriend pics show up on pages of girls they don't like. The question is how does FB know this. It does. I have been very interested in this topic for a while and have tried to get behind the typical explanations, and none of them fly, based on my own experience or that of my kids. There is a matrix in place to play with people's heads. TAKE IT TO THE BANK

I have just a handful of friends on fb, so it's easy for me to keep track of their whereabouts...and I notice that when a friend appears in the top spot of the sidebar, they've just commented on my posting, or that they have just posted about or to me. I see that they've just come online, etc. I'm 95% sure that it's who has viewed your profile/wall, etc. No such thing as coincidence when it comes to fb!

I am pretty sure its who views your profile or maybe a combination of that and whose profile you view, and maybe a random person thrown in there. In my friends list the same people constantly show up and its mostly close friends and family (or people I used to be close with.) I have random people I barely know or never met and they rarely show up. It's not always who you interact with either, because I don't really interact with most of my friends, yet they constantly show up. One of my old friends shows up a lot of the time and I know she always is looking at my profile because she likes most of my photos and statuses. I also refresh my page and the list doesn't really change that much. I tried an experiment with someones page and looked at it several times and I showed up on her side bar.

Also when I added my crush on Facebook, he was always showing up on my sidebar. I am not sure if its because I was viewing his profile, or he was looking at mine (I later found out he liked me too.) I know it is not a coincidence and we weren't interacting on Facebook at the time so I can't think of any other reason. Unless Facebook can somehow read people's minds.

My guess is that the last people that interacted with your profile in some way. May it be by simply stopping by your page, signing a photo, dropping a message or comment. NOTE: If the person hasn't signed on in weeks or months and they still appearing at random in your "Featured Friends List", this could mean that your profile was the last profile they kept coming to before signing out and the same goes with someone who might only have a small number of friends on their page they visit. Maybe they visit you more, so the FB algorithm system has it figured that you and this person are very close when in fact you might not be. Good way to see who's watching you, but be careful...they will know too. Also, every first letter of the alphabet entered into search will reveal this information as well.
Interesting and very telling... "Also, every first letter of the alphabet entered into search will reveal this information as well." –  Answers  Dec 10th, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Just curious, facebook smartphone apps( android, apple, blackberry) can potentially collect the information about your phone calls and texts. and they can use the information to enhance chat bar. There will be always some friends on my Facebook chat bar, I do not communicate through Facebook. It might be random, but here i go. A girl who is in my chat bar for about 2 months drunk dial me and told me that she likes me ;)
It's an interesting idea, but more than likely she's on your chat bar because she's been checking out your profile / pics. I highly doubt facebook is scraping phone call and text data from your phone, to correlate friends on your chat bar. Facebook would do way more harm than good to themselves if they were caught doing something like that, especially when they have more than enough data on you and your friends interactions that they don't need to do something like that. –  Answers  Dec 13th, 2011 at 2:45 AM

Why doesn't Facebook have a help site that would answer this question?

I really think it is the 10 friends that most recently viewed you profile. This would explain why it is mostly people you know. Also, would explain some randoms every now and then. I know it has nothing to do with friends you have the most contact with, because my best friends and boyfriend almost never appear.

It really confuses me. I feel very weird when random people show up.

yes there on the side bar because those are the people who visit your page the most

Anyone using the new facebook layout yet?
There are 2 x 6 different friends showing and from what I am seeing it is using a different algorithm than the one used on the old layout (the 10 friends bar)

I think they changed it recently and it's not showing the ones who viewed your profile the most recently.
Can someone explain me this:
A girl I met two months ago and with whom I corresponding like crazy (wall posts, page visits and likes) since then, has never once showed up in any of my bars before.
On the other hand a girl whom I used to check out and send to a lot for 8 months, still keeps showing up on my bars, while we haven't interacted at all for the last three months [we are in a serious argument] - In these three last months I have visited her page like 4 times and I know from before she hardly ever checked out my page before...

Can someone put some logic into this one?

I live abroad and still have my whole family in my home country. Yesterday I told them that I had posted a lot of X-mas pictures on fb (we are a really big family). This morning when I logged in to fb, almost the entire family turned up in my friends sidebar (I guess since they'd all been checking out the pics I posted, i.e. they had all visited my profile).

i never interact or anything with the people who show up on my side bar though. i think its either who i view the most or who views me, ;P

I reckon its who views your account most because:

i interact alot with my friend but he doesnt appear on the side list

Because people i view regularly dont appear on the side list

And because 3 people stalk my profile and their all on the side list

I think it's a combination of people who view your profile, people whose profile you view, and a bit of interaction.
I have 1 or 2 people who I USED to check their profiles regularly. This was probably some 7 or 8 months ago, and they still pop up on my sidebar even though I've stopped checking their profiles.
Also, there is 1 person I'm suspecting could be a stalker, and his name only pops up on my sidebar RIGHT AFTER he comes online, then it stays there for hours.
And a bit of interaction because I have a friend whom I used to talk with a bit on Facebook. Not much anymore, but she still pops up on my sidebar and I pop up on hers.
And there are those 2 or 3 random people that Facebook puts in to confuse and annoy you. I seriously doubt it's a coincidence.

I Think Its The People Who View Your Profile That Day, Because I Don't View There Profile Nor Really Talk To Any Of Them..
Uh Me xD

I have been wondering the same thing. made a survey for some is only 4 questions and will take 2 seconds to do. I will also post the results! click this link

reason facebook got timeline...becuase people are catching unto the fact that the sidebar has to do with your top stalkers. facebook doesnt wanna lose money. zuckerburg you dog.

It changes all the time. its just random so that they can get you to talk to all your friends and some how meet new people. or it could be that most recent veiwers not who veiws you the most or who you veiw the most i rarely ever vewi any of mine.

it also has to do with your phone. if you are connected to facebook through your phone, and if you have it set up so that it connects your facebook contacts and your phone contacts, then the friends you call may also be factored into that algorithm.
i dated a girl for a short while, didn't work out, like her still for a month or so after and occasionally visited her page (2-3x/wk). decided to stop. took a couple weeks for her to stop showing up on my sidebar. one day she called me and like an hour later i was on facebook and she popped up on my sidebar. creepy

I've read the whole thread and got all those opposite opinions and experiment results. In sum, they are converged into roughly three hypotheses:

1. people who appear on the sidebar are who VIEW your profile the most.
2. people who appear on the sidebar are whose profiles are VIEWED by you the most.
3. Both above are all bull. It is definitely defined by other recent interactions like message, like, replies, and etc.

Some of the people in the threads say that they did the experiment- they viewed the other experimenter's profile regularly quite a period but they never showed up in the other's sidebar. And some say their passed-away people still shows up in their sidebar. Also refreshing the cache or logging out aren't quite helpful to make some change on sidebar members.

Dude, I think it is the matter of frequency, like every other person who wrote all those opinion. But my point is that the frequency of appearing on the sidebar may be calculated by the formular of the inverse proportion of the frequency of interaction, while direct proportion of the length of the visiting period; that is to say, too much interaction in a relatively short period could low the possibility of YOUR appearing on other's sidebar. I think regular access of the target person's wall in a relatively long period could raise up the possibility of appearing. This might be an accumulative basis- if someone regularly visited your walls or profiles quite a long period before, the possibility that he or she appears on your sidebar goes up; so the person remains on yours. And me parece, the longer the period of the regular visiting, the longer the visitor remains on your sidebar.

I think visiting "once in a blue moon" rather have stronger influences on sidebar appearing than a couple of views in a day. I guess the purpose of the fb developers- what do they want to us? more social networking. more frequent interactions with not only among near friends but also the nodes far far away. If we interact with someone frequently enough, he or she does not need to be listed up because is a kind of a redundancy to show them on your sidebar! Rather, someone who visit you seldom should be pinned up on your sidebar to poke you to re-visit.

However, I think this is only one of the various logics that construct fb's algorithm. I suppose there might be other independent rules set for only "relatively short period", and etc.

Well ive come to conclusion about the friends on the left of your profile page, after months of observing I notice that I've been having the same people on my left so I am pretty sure that the people on your left are the ones who recently viewed your profile,photos etc.

wrong wrong wrong

How do you even know who's been viewing your profile.

Your friends list is ordered by who you publicly interact with most often.. ie wall post, mutual public events, comments... That is it!

It's not random!

And facebook does not record profile viewing
facebook help faq

It's very obvious to me:
read the FAQ CAREFULLY: "However, Facebook does not select friends to show based on whose profiles you choose to view or who you interact with over messages and chat. "
-> not based on whose profile YOU watch
-> can be based on who watches YOUR profile (they don't deny it in the faq)

from my own experience I'm 100% sure it's partially based on who watches my profile the most!

@silent-h: off course fb records profile viewing: they record EVERYTHING and who watches who (without interactions) is pretty important stuff to record (they want to understand why we watch so they can 'force' more interactions)

My QUESTION: I have the impression that the visible friends box on the new Timeline behaves different: it looks like its more based on mutual friends and stuff... Can anyone comment on this plz?

Is the friends-box on the timeline the same as the friends list on the old profile? Do you think it works the same way?
facebook help faq is full of lies! don't trust it and look for 3th party analysis!
yes it works the same way –  balletbabe  Apr 8th, 2012 at 9:42 PM

forgot to say:

-If e.g. Sara marks me as just an "aquintance", she can look at my profile every day, but she will never appear in my friends list on the left.

About FB recording what/who you watch:
-when I go e.g. on Sara's profile (click once to go to her profile) and immediately back to my own profile, I see about 6 suggestions to join a group that might interest me... Unsurprisingly, Sara is a member of most/all groups.

So, what silent-h said is wrong, wrong, wrong: they clearly record profile viewing !!!

-the same is true when I open an old pm to e.g. Sara (don't type, just get right back to own profile), again I see group suggestions that have Sara as member... So even your private interactions (or just looking at mails) gets registered by facebook and has an immediate impact on what you see!

You should try this yourself with some random friends.
facebook, try these things yourself

I believe that Facebook chat plays a big role as well. Me and my housemate talk on Facebook 24/7. All the time. He is constantly on my top friends, but we almost never interact publicly/ been tagged in many pictures together. There was this guy who has reasons to stalk me since last week and he hasn't popped up on my top friends almost at all until last week -and now he's constantly there. Apart from that, I always see my best friends that I talk on Facebook all the time, both of the people I'm with in my profile picture. Plus, there is this girl I used to interact a lot with last year and have plenty of pictures with, but it's been more that 6 months since we stopped contacting each other and she's frequently up there. Plus another girl I have been on vacation with together and have plenty of pictures with as well.

It's mostly people that you interact with a lot. But I find it kind of strange that my old boyfriend and a guy I used to talk to show up there quite often. My old boyfriend and I didnt communicate much through Facebook, maybe a couple chats and a few comments and likes. And the guy I used to talk with maybe had 3 chats with and no public contact. So hmmm...

i think that it is who has last viewed your profile

I dont know why you people keep referring to a friends list on the left. We are in discussion about the top friends that appear in your chat side bar located on the right side of the window.

I rarely interact with anyone on facebook; however, some people I do interact with a lot are almost always in my sidebar.

There are also people I never interact with or view their profile who appear on my sidebar, but they pop in and out of the top of my list and the part of the list labeled "more online friends". Some of these people are old friends and some are people who I recently interacted with in real life. A few are also girls who i believe to be interested.

If I had to make an assumption about what is going on here, I would say that there is a simple formula in play here. It weights every aspect of a user's facebook experience in relation to a friend. This experience includes profiles they view and views of their own profile in addition to public interaction and chat sessions. Once these values for each aspect of interaction are weighted based on importance, they are added together. Once this happens for each friend, the friends list is sorted based on this summed value.

The developers of facebook want the list to always be the best list they can possibly recommend. If someone has literally no public interactions(worst potential case) they still need some value to sort friends by because the way the code works, this sorting process is going to happen for every user whether they have 2 friends or 700 friends and whether they have just 2 interactions or a million. Would it make sense to give every friendship that does not have any public interactions a value of 0? The answer is no because the developers want their sort to work the best it could and they know just like everyone else that a facebook friendship is much more than the public stuff.

There are too many friendships across the database that have an empty list of public interactions for these to all have equal values of 0.

For someone who does not do much public interacting, the effects of profile viewing on the friend list sort process is much more noticeable. This is all logical speculation.

For those of you think facebook isnt keeping a list of the profiles you view because that is what they say, they could very easily keep a list of every click you have made on their website. They would store that list, so whenever they want to know what profiles you view they could just pull all profile views from the complete list every time instead of storing the info as a separate list. This keeps their statement truthful while allowing them to circumvent it.

it's NOT about the comments, likes, and tags of photos that you do on their profile or vice versa that make them appear on your friend's list because me and my best friend interact with each other publically a lot and i never appeared on his friend's list. it's NOT who views your profile the most because i view my best friend's profile almost everyday and i'm never appeared on his friend's list. i think it's just random.

All I know is, it doesn't make much sense to have 150 friends, and only ever see the posts of 10 of them! We might just as well email back and forth with those few! FB isn't nearly as fun as it used to be. You know that when you check in, you're gonna see the same dozen people every time. Now, what DOES make sense is that there is no way you could see ALL your friends' posts, especially for those who have hundreds of friends! It just seems that FB could mix it up, regardless of whether you've recently communicated or not. That's how you stay connected with people!

Hi I have a question guys..
what about the search bar?..."Mr.crush" appears the first under the first letter of his first name, his second name, and his last name!!..however, he never shows up in my chat bar, and in the friends list bar in the profile...
what does that mean?
does he view me? or I view him, or neither?
I haven't looked at him in like at least 15 days now..

Well actually I just made a second profile to run a few tests. I tried stalking my other profile and chatting but the second profile don't show up on my sidebar so hmmmmm?
New profiles you set up (or new friends) won't be factored in highly, so you won't see any clear cut results any time soon. It needs to be sustained overtime. Also the fact that your second profile is created on the same computer / same IP Address as your real profile, may also come into effect. Testing the friends algorithm with a fake profile probably won't work well at all. –  Answers  Mar 22nd, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Of course people see what's there. it's fact. and there is a pattern in these answers to COMPLETELY support the theory that who has viewed your profile recently will show up on the left side bar of friends. Even if it doesn't 'shake things up' enough, as some users would like, Facebook still undoubtedly intends for it to get you to communicate. Most of us WANT to see who's viewed our profile and of course Facebook would know and use this to their advantage. They can hide this in all the legal sounding words they want, but as one person said here, they DON'T deny it. and another person(s) pointed out that 'interacting' could easily include the simple viewing of a profile, in THEIR definition.

There could also be multiple formulas for pulling the people to the side bar. If you don't have the first set of criteria such as who's view you today, or whatever, then the software 'rolls over' to a second set of criteria, such as who viewed you last, even if it was last month. As for deceased friends, the formula could of course include a portion of your friends without recent activity -- Facebook utilizing your activity to bring someone back to regular interaction, not knowing anything but that the deceased person hasn't been on Facebook in a while. To cover themselves they probably do throw in a small portion of randomness. I think there are too many factors and people see too many different patterns for there to be only one formula. If the software doesn't have the numbers in your profile for one formula, it goes to the next, until the spaces are filled.
Totally agree.... There's a good chance (and probably are) multiple formulas/ algorithms that determine the outcome of the friends sidebar, based on certain scenerios. –  Answers  Mar 25th, 2012 at 2:34 AM

If I was playing the 1 Million pound drop and this was the first question. Id put 1 Million on... It Is people that check your profile out most. The less frequent the visitors more randoms will be placed in there.
Ive been wondering this for the last 4 months or so when they updated Facebook the last time and every time I have checked Facebook ive had this consistent thought that Ive never had any reason to doubt.

I am pretty sure that this has something to do with who views your profile.
Whenever, and I mean whenever I post something my ex appears on the side bar. (upper in the new timeline.) We have never had any public interaction on facebook (as we kept our relationship secret), no chat, no tagged photos together, comments or likes, and I only moderately check his profile, certainly not stalking him like crazy whatsoever. And this situation starts exactly after he likes the page facebook for i-phone.. approximately two weeks ago. I have good reasons to think that he downloaded the application and makes use of it to mobile-track my activity on face as since then he also *constantly* appears in my friends box.

This is something which intrigues me. There is one person who I talk to very regularly on PM but never publicly, and she is always on my list. Almost {note} everyone else is someone I have 'interacted' with recently.

She and I did, however, have an extremely long wall chat some time ago, which suggests that it considers something along the lines of 'largest number of recent wall posts [+other public actions] by any given person'.

But there are other aspects too; There are people on mine who I haven't spoken to in years, or never, ever have spoken to publicly. Randomisation?

I also note that more than half of them are people I only interact with privately. Yes, you have to visit someone's page to PM them, but I am now starting to think that it includes people you PM as well as publicly interact with.
Observation of limited data set [not experimental conditions!]

ive been "seeing" someone for about 5 months.. weve maybe had all together 4 or 5 comments on posts.. and liked a few things here or there.. but no pictures or anything cause he isnt into sharing his "relationships" with the world.. well he is 99% of the time on my friends list on my new time line.. both in the big box AND little box in the about me section. the other friends will change a lot.. a few more frequent than others.. but he is there the most. i look at his page a lot but i dont always see myself on his friends list....

I think Facebook TELLS us that it's who we interact with publicly, because if they admitted it that would be admitting that they are breaking privacy policies.
I KNOW it's not who you interact with publicly, because the same guy comes up every single time, and I've never interacted with him publicly.

@"wouldnt you like to know":

I'm pretty sure your friends can't see your top 6 or 8, when they visit your profile. When they look at your profile, they will have their most mutual friends that are friends with your friends filling that up.

The way you can tell is if you go to, "View as" and then type the person's name in the box to see how they would view your profile.

I stumbled on this blog when I noticed the girl I have a crush on has been on my sidebar for the last half a year. Thing is, I've never visited her profile once in the past 2 years and we share only a handful of mutual friends. What's the consensus on how inbound clicks on your profile matter?


Have you ever had any contact with her on FB? PMs, chat, likes/comments?

nope nothing on my end. I think one of my buddies (also either dated or was her best friend over 2 years ago, but they haven't had any public comments in the last 2 years. She's somehow dropped off the list today though, but I'm sure she'll be back on there eventually. My buddy working at google is in the same situation as her (we never contact on facebook, and I don't remember last time I looked at his profile) and he'll blink in and out for the last 3 months. Of the ten people on that list,6 of them I would consider my close friends I always comment on. Google dude and girl are always around and the other 1 or 2 seem random to me.

I did do an experiment yesterday where I clicked on the profile of a friend I never talk to, and sure enough he's was on my ten people on the right hand bar for at least briefly! So I think its a two way street.

I want to say that the people on your left side is people who look at your profile the most. Because i do have the same people that show up on that list are my closest friends and i rarely go on peoples profile.The list does change every few days but eventually its a cycle and the same friends show up. I do like things the friends on that list of their posts if only if i see it on the newsfeed. And i rarely comment on their walls or PM them or chat with them.

As someone mentioned previously, i do have my crush on the left side as well so i may be trying to justify my reasonsing haha xD I think their are others ways facebook keep track of who views your profile the most additional to the right side bar on your profile. Frist, people who show up in your search bar with each letter you type, individually. Especially if they show up on every letter of their initials. I think that the more the person searches you and you go on their page, the higher they are on that search bar. Possibly, first for each letter of their initials. Secondly, If you are online from the chatbar there is a set of friends as well check your profile. Third, if you hover a persons name/picture, the five mutual friends that show up. Lastly, if you check "see friendship" with you and a friend or two friends, if you look under the mutual friends list on the left side, those are friends who look at your profile the most. Question is, do you find the same friends in all of these ways?

Although, i did notice that after i click on a persons profile, that friend would show up on my search bar with whatever initial their names are. But after the next log in or next refresh, that friend disappears and the original list of friends under each letter comes back.

All of these ways, i do have the same friends that show up in all those ways. Which of course are my closest friends. And also cause the guy i like is present in all five ways :)))
My friends and myself observation.

It's not people who view your profile. People always say this because they stalk people they admire, like, have a crush on, desire, etc, and then start seeing said person(s) showing up when they view their own profile. This only means that you view their profile a lot. You are the only one that sees them. If it was them always viewing your profile only they would be able to see that when they look at thier own profile (which you wouldn't be able to see anyway).
It's literally just a combination of:
- People you have interacted with
- Family
- People from similar groups or events
- People with a high mutual friend
- Probably the total amount of interactions etc of a whole friendhsip history
- And people you view the most.

I think it's sly the way they do people you view the most because obviously you're viewing that person for a reason and if you're not interacting you're probably hoping they'll interact with you. If you see they pop up you're more likely to believe they've been recently interacting with your profile and be more likely to talk to them even though the only reason they've shown up is because of your own activity.
Made various accounts and tested my hypothesis. There is absolutely nothing with who views your profile. I wish there was because this guy I always stalk always shows up on mine, but it's really just a combination of people i stalk, family, and people i interact with or have interacted with in the past.

Are you guys talking about facebook timeline or old profile? Because the former seems to have different algorithm...
This question & answer is based on the OLD facebook profile where the friends list was on the left sidebar. –  Answers  Apr 21st, 2012 at 7:33 PM

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