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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

I am using Facebook timeline and has always been curious how certain 6 people would appear in the box.

Some of them I could understand, either they are my close friends who would like or comment on my update, some I used to stalk, but no longer now (at least for the past 2 months), some may be stalking me.

The only thing that confuses me is why this particular good friend of mine, whom I know would check out my facebook every day and comment as much as he would (he told me so because he found my post interesting). He never appears in the box of 6 people. Why?

^^how often do you interact with his profile, opposed to him interacting to yours?

Pretty sure it's based on who views your profile. In fact, I've believed this for a long time now because I always have the same select few who are viewing me (friends and girls that want me). And then the random person that pops up especially when I post a status or a new photo or something. So I am willing to bet all of my wealth that it is 90% based on people viewing YOU.

It actually makes sense because when Facebook is showing you the girls/boys/exes looking at your profile, you naturally are intrigued and thus stay on longer, increasing Facebook's revenue through their ads. Everyone stalks their lovers on Facebook so it only makes sense for Facebook to show YOU who's looking at you the most and thus increasing your interest in logging on all the time. If a girl keeps looking at your profile, it's obvious she is interested in you. It's a great business strategy. Well done Facebook and I will continue to click ads for you.

I picked a random person out of my 500 friends that i never even looked at their profile, and viewed it over and over by searching their name then going back on my browser 15 times. Their name had not appeared on my sidebar, but after a while I went up the list until at 15 profile views, I was the first friend that appeared on his sidebar. coincidence? I think not. The sidebar is an indication of your top stalkers. thats all, folks! try it for yourselves!
You're talking about pre-timeline profile right? –  nameless  May 18th, 2012 at 7:06 AM

I have over 1500 friends. I am not on FB much because I live in China. I access it every day via VPN for 5 minutes to make sure that I am responding to private messages or other communication that appear to be urgent. I don't really follow profiles. I 'like' things that pop-up in my news feed once in a while, things that are connected to friends I love.

There is one girl who I only have access to via FB. I am very attracted to her. In fact she is the only girl I am deeply attracted to on planet earth. I don't think it could actually work out between the two of us because of my past connection with some close friend of hers.

So I don't interact with her and I purposefully try to stay away from her page because it is just like putting salt on an open wound.

However every time I log in, for those 5 minutes a day, she is constantly there on my friend list. It really frustrates me! Out of the 1800+ people, why does she pop-up? There is definitely no randomness to this. Two options:

1) She often views my profile. Yes, this is a possibility. And judging by the other people in the list, there is a possibility that 80% of them are stalkers and 20% are randoms to just keep you confused and in the dark. I think this is what ultimately FB wants us all to believe. This keeps us involved.

2) FB uses a psychological framework for the selection of these profiles. Follow me:

FB wants us to be logged in and active as much as possible. It has to find ways of keeping us hooked to increase revenues. Just like in any other social space (a club, a bar, a restaurant, a living room, etc.) we stay in it more when we are surrounded by people that fulfill our deep psychological needs. I think each one of the 10 (or 8 if you use timeline) profiles that pop up are actually fulfilling one of these needs. When I look at my selection today, I see:

a) The bud - need to have fun and just keep things light

b) The loving sister - need to feel loved

c) The random one that you never see - need to keep things interesting

d) The one that I see in real life every day - need to keep things real

e) The long lost friend - need for nostalgia

f) The creative one- need to be intellectually stimulated

g) The one you secretly want to be - need to have aspirations

h) The one you want but can't have - she is the one that made me write this long post

There are algorithms that can create these profiles. For example in the case of 'the long lost friend' its a combination of: growing up together + number of dated pictures together + other variables (you get what I am trying to get to I hope)

Or, in the case of 'the one you want but you can't have', FB knows from my history that I looked at her profile in the past with relative interest but never interacted with her. It does the math and the probability of her fitting the profile is pretty high.

What is even more interesting is that the fact that these people we need are up there (with NO explanation offered) also fulfills the intrinsic need that option 1 describes: the need to feel desired and wanted.
When I read the posts above, it is evident that 99% of us feel that there is no randomness to the selection of the profiles. As we dig to figure out the reason for the selection of the profile, the supposition that it is all based on people stalking us and 'looking' at us gains in importance.

The simple fact that we think that there might be a slight possibility of it being based on people stalking us already fulfills FBs purpose. Keeping us hooked. And they do this by fulfilling our deepest need: making us feel important.

In all honesty I do not know if this is true or not, so take it all as a grain of salt. But I do realize that maybe I should just go outside, breathe some fresh air, and eventually, when the time is right, let this girl know that I like her and get out of the game. Cause it really makes no sense to be so in-deep with this nonsense.

im sure its a bit of both , people you view and people who view you, many times ive looked through someone's profile and then they appear on my friends list, but then sometimes people's profile who ive never viewd appear first, assuming they must have looked at my profile.

I also wonder about the search bar and how it works. Several months ago I deleted a friend whose profile I had not looked at once since. We don't even have any mutual friends either. It took a couple of months before this person got knocked off my search list (during that time I actively looked up other people with the same initials so that I could push them off the list). After that I experienced a few months free of seeing this individual in my search whenever I'd type in their initial. Just a few weeks ago, they reappeared second on my search list (only behind one of my friends)! They didn't even creep up the list; just one day they weren't there, and the next day they were all of a sudden second. So I went and repeated the cleansing process where I looked up other people with the same initials. This time it took between one and two weeks to remove them, but I just didn't understand why they'd randomly reappear on my list if I hadn't looked at them once. I checked to see if it's cause they deleted their facebook account as being the reason for their disappearance but when i typed in a lot more of their name they still showed up. So... I really don't know.


Its culiminative viewing and interaction since you met that person. Its not based on a weekly or daily contact. more like a long term consistent based interaction between you and another person whether it be they viewing you or vise versa. Try this experienment: view the persons profile and picture everyday for a month and you will see a change.

Do you honesty think fb will go through millions of account to sort out your interaction everytime you view someone....

I have people whos profile i never visit who are on my top 6, so im guessing its who looks on your wall

It shows the people that have recently been on your profile. It may not seem like it at times, but it is.

It tells you what friends have recently visited your profile :)

It cant be who i look at, because there are people who i dont interact with ever and i dont go to their page and they show up on mine, so they are probally there because that are checking out my page alot.

I honestly feel it is more closely tied in with who visits you. And by that I mean your status updates. This is why: I've noticed it with girls who I have fooled around with or broken up with. In one case, once we stopped seeing each other, i stopped visiting her page, pic, or posts completely, but her picture was always on the side of my page. And we don't have many friends in common. I honestly think she kept visiting me.

In another case, when fooling around with a girl her picture was always on the side of my page. I didn't visit her page very often because she hardly ever updated it. Once things went sour and communication stopped in real life, her pic stopped appearing and my page. It hasn't been back since.

I came to a realization! You know how facebook, connects to other websites? The algorithm could take into account of you visiting a friend, on another website. For example, I know a friend, who also has his youtube channel linked to his account. If you look closely at your actions on another website, the friends who appear on your profile, may very well be your doing, if you avoid contact on facebook, but try to sneak on them on another website, or mutual viewing.

The answer is whoever you interact with the most..status updates, messages, comments, chat etc. sometimes if youve been stalking your friends friend they pop just to let u know hey stalk some more lol. i think this is the answer!

I believe it is a mix of the lot and that some are stalkers and people you view. I noticed some profile spying on me all the tiem (i tested it out) and yes it tracked that profile in my friends list so it does track stalkers. But heres whats weird and you can make of it what you want.

I haven't actually been on Facebook in like a year but when i signed in i noticed this 'close friends' thing at the top of my home page. Now i am not asking what it is for but i am confused why certain people appear in that list of suggestions as well.

For example my family members turns up in that suggestion box which seems normal however 3 of the 8 people who turn up are people i dont speak to or ever visit their profiles when online. These people are not online much themselves either. Whats stranger is that those 3 people have some relation to a long forgotten ex girlfriend from over 2 years ago - they are her best friend, mum and aunt; is that weird or what?

I wonder do these people appear there because they view my profile or have me added to their close friends? I just find it odd that 'they' keep appearing in my list when there are many other people such as my best friends who visit my profile and interact with my profile, i never interact with those 3 people.

that's odd, how can it be people that views your profile ? i have at least one famouse guy everytime on my friends box side bar and i dont view his profile for ages =// and some of the people i dont even know =// and they are all the same in diferent order

six friend box is who you talk to and interact with and may be watching your profile.., 8 friend box is who stalks you ... and never say a word to you... kinda like a warning... even for your real friends to tell you ..hey whos this guy you have as a friend on fb...? do you really know him/her??

Someone I've never interacted with, publicly anyways... has always been on my sidebar. ALWAYS so I doubt its who you interact with most. More or less who views your profile the most. I know timeline threw a wrench into that but some people don't want timeline.

For the 8 Friends box: Sometimes it's people I've interacted with recently. Other times, whomever I've been looking at their profile a lot--but that person doesn't always show up, just occasionally. But I've also noticed that my hairdresser's photo tends to show up around the time I have an appointment with her, even though we don't really interact on facebook. What can I conclude based on this?

Are you talking about the sidebar on the right (chat) or on the left on your profile under 'friends'? if you are talking about the right in chat, then that is what facebook is saying how it says they are the people you publically interact with most as they will be the ones that you are most likely to talk to. then underneath it has more online friend, and they are the people you are less likely to talk to. BUT if you are talking about the friends that show up on your profile, i'm 97% sure that 2 of them are just random, and the rest are who has viewed your profile recently

I believe its a random mixture between those who have been viewing your profile most recently and friend's profiles you have been viewing most often. It may be 4 and 4 (because it shows 8 friends) but they shuffle as you refresh your page.

I never talk or keep in contact with any of the people that are on my sidebar, but there they are, so I would really like to know the same thing...

I do believe that those people that shows up on the right side of your chat sidebar are the ones that views or has viewed your profile recently. Not all those that are on the chat sidebar are the ones that viewed your profile though. It's a mixture if people whom you recently talked to, poked and other things relating to you and that certain friend communicating.

Personal experience. I've had a friend that I just met 5 months ago and we've talked for a couple of times. Then saw him on my chat sidebar. But now, he has moved to another place, we then never talked anymore or interacted and I never see him on my sidebar.

But I also do believe that there are more reasons that may be the possibility of those people showing up on the chat sidebar. K eat your cereal now

I did an experiment.

I chose a friend of a friend and clicked on their profile page. Then I chose one of that person's friends and clicked to their profile. Then I went back and forth between random persons A & B for a while.

A & B each rose up their respective friends list. The more I did it, the more they progressed to each other's first spot on the friend's list.


But if someone his on the top of my friend on the chat on Facebook, and I don't chat with him or see is profile that means what?

They are the people you talk to the most

the person that's my #1 is someone i added from online (tumblr). been friends only 2 weeks and we ONLY interact through private messages. we never wrote on each others walls. ive never liked any status or photo of hers, wasnt tagged for anything etc and same vice versa. is that random? i do visit her profile a lot, but not sure if she does the same for #2 is a friend i know, added like 3 months ago, we like,comment,and message. but i never message her as much as person #1

I really need help to figure this one out. I've been trying to establish the appearance of someone in my 6 box. He is my crush, and about 4 months ago I was visiting his profile daily, multiple times a day. From a mobile device pretty much exclusively. Overall, we have had very little interaction on fb; during the time I was "stalking" his profile, I sent him multiple private messages which he never answered. He read them, because it said "seen" but never responded. Around 3 months ago, I just gave up. I stopped messaging completely, and have maybe viewed his profile two or three times in the last 3 months. I have not had public interaction with him on fb in the last 5 months, no likes, no photo views or comments.

Occassionally when he posts a status update I will click on it and read it but I also don't do that very often anymore. I am still seeing him in my 6 box. Will he be there until I unfriend him completely, just because of the one sided "stalking" I did a few months ago? Or is he visiting my profile? When I type in the first two letters of his name, he is the fourth person listed, after three people who are my family members, even though there is a person who has the same first letters with whom I have way more public interaction.

I am pretty desperate to know because well, I have an idea why he never responded to my messages (I'm married and he is much younger than I) and I am pretty sure that he had feelings for me based on his behavior in real life. If there is anything there on his part because I need reassurance I am not crazy
You are crazy to fool around with your desires, keep faithful to your marriage.
Are you that unhappy, get divorced.
you will hurt your husband if you cheat on him.
and yourself too.

Love is not too fool with, the mind is fooling the heart..

get your grip on life woman!

a happy 2013 wish for you! –  G74  Jan 6th, 2013 at 1:23 AM

haha this things makes us a little paranoid . I'm convinced that it shows people who stalks you so I reload the page multiple times until my crush appears. Then I go to sleep happy. haha okey, maybe his is just me ;)

From my experience:
My top 10 make sense with 1 clear example of an exception.

the top 10 are people I talk to and interact with - makes sense

1 girl who is number 2 on my list is someone I though might have a crush on me. I have never interacted with her on facebook ever. conclusion, the algorithm has put her there as she is looking at my profile alot which boosts her up the list or it is a random type element. (shes not a new friend, she is not someone I ever look at her profile, she is listed in acquaintences.

Slightly worried as I have been on someones page quite a bit, not cos there my crush particularly but I like to look at their pictures as they are very professional and from all over the world, she might think I like her, might be high up her list

If you compare your scrolling sidebar people with your actual "friends list", you will see that they don't match up. Take a peek at the first 10 to 15 people who show up on your entire list and then refresh about 5 to 10 times. The same people will remain on top of your list, but in a different order each time.

It appears that these people either had recent contact or viewed your page or you connected with them in some way.

It's possibly random, i chat with my girlfriend everyday, and she does not appear in my list at all....
G from the netherlands

@G74 Thanks for your input. I don't recall asking for your judgement on my personal marriage situation, just a general post about facebook and those top 6 friends. Maybe you can rewrite your post and answer that query, otherwise, kindly stfu.

I have 5400 friends and it's almost always the same people in my sidebar, it's people that I talk with, but not as often as others. So, I think its who checks your profile often.
Personal Experience

I think the 8 friend box and chat sidebar are connected. First off I believe the chat bar and 8 friend box are indicators of your stalkers. I can confirm this because my sister pops up on both, and of course family will stalk you. Some cousins also appear on the 8 friend box from time to time further proving it. Also, a family friend much older than me appears on my chat bar and I am 100% sure she "stalks" my profile. Now someone who appears in both my chat and 8 friend box is a girl who I believe likes me as i often catch her staring at me. So no I do not believe any of it is random, just look at your chat sidebar, 8 friend box and your friends list. The people(or at least some) from the chat bar and the 8 friend box appear at the TOP of your friends list. It is no coincidence.

in the 8 friend box i just realized that when i put someone in my close friends list (i've only done this with one person at a time) that person appears consistently in the bottom right corner of the box.

Tried that and it didn't work for me.

also what i can not explain: one of my friends - is nearly always on in 6-box but NEVER was in 8box. we never interracted and we dont even know good each other but she is in 6box. i wish she appeared in 8box but she doesnt!

I really think its a combination of the following:
a) Friends whose page you veiw a lot (stalking)
b) Friends who view your page a lot (your stalkers)
c) Randoms

I have noticed that there are two individuals who I am known to stalk who have randomly started to appear in my sidebar on a regular basis recently. I think Facebook knows that I am a dirty dirty stalker!

My answer pertains to the Timeline profile set-up.

Facebook most definitely can keep track of who clicks your profile the most and such (flash cookies anyone?); what company would admit to keeping track of such data publicly unless they were busted for it?

I don't think it has that much to do with who you interact with the most on Facebook chat with who you interact with publicly (likes, comments, etc.) the most. I don't think it has much to do with who you stalk the most either quite honestly because most of the people that show up on my 8 box I don't interact with much, nor do I look at their profiles often. I'll admit one person who has started to show up on there is someone I have been Facebook stalking for about a month now (a crush of mine), although he started showing up on there just a couple of days ago. Hmm....

I think it has to do with the following things (in ranked order, at least in my personal experience):
a. who has viewed your profile most recently
b. who you interacted with recently publicly/privately
c. who views your profile the most (perhaps this is collected over a period of time and shows up eventually?)
d. who you have interacted with the least or has been a while since you interacted (again, perhaps collected over a period of time)
e. some randoms to keep us guessing!
I don't think that if you stalk someone's Facebook, they will pop up on your friend's bar so much but I won't deny the possibility. Think about it: Facebook wants to keep us captivated as others have said before me. They want their users interested in who views their profile (or in other words, finds us the most interesting) without a direct breach of privacy and without saying it outright (they wouldn't want to embarrass their users this way, would they?). So, why not let us know via who shows up in your friends list the most?

I usually have between 2 and 4 friends who show up in my sidebar who I have had absolutely no contact with on in the last year--I have not viewed their profile or sent message--and yet they continually appear on my sidebar. It is curious and annoying to see their faces every time I log in, and it is the same 2-4 people all the time. I suspect they are stalkers.

Okay so after half an hour of reasearch I figured out NO it is NOT random! There are always 15-20 different people that will always appear. These are NOT the people who veiw your profile most. These people are a mixture of people including a few people you have recently messaged, people who always like your status/photos and also people whose profiles you always visit. Then facebook always chucks in 5 or less random people. I'm sure facebook would'nt tell you who visits your profile or anything private like that. Hope it helped :)


did anyone think it could be who views yours the most and whose you view the most? most logical assumption. also if its someones profile who you have not had contact with for a while, be an ex or crush. if you stalked them or shared a lot with them for a long time on facebook, well not looking at thier sh*t for like a month probably isnt as long as you interacted with that persons profile. Facebook has everything you've done since you started it so if this person is someone you or they intercated with you a lot over a long period of time, then its not going to go away in a month.

I think it's a combination of who's profile you view most and also who views yours.
I don't know much about computer programming but im sure this can be done quite easily with the cookies installed on your browser. It also determines what kind of ads you get popping up. It's all based on what sites you've visited recently. Try refreshing your cookies and and see whether it will make much difference.

I think its who i view the most, theres no way this guy i barely know has been viewing my profile so much that he got so high up in those 20 people
no way, i reckon its who i view

I've started to notice this recently:
1. People who show up in my sidebar when I "View as" mode are people who I communicate on daily basis (comments, likes, pm's, shares). It's always switching, but I communicate with them all.

2. People who show up in my sidebar when I'm logged on my profile are people I interact with, except one. Person I added 3 weeks ago and had only been talking few times 3 weeks ago over pm and that's it. No public interaction. I viewed that profile only once. And I communicate with 10+ different people every day.

3. People that show up in chat when I'm offline are all people I interact publicly and again that one person from sidebar is on top! I chat with at least 10 people more than I did with that person 3 weeks ago.

4. When I refresh my friend's list, same people always show up switching, including that one person. Either that person is online at the moment or that person has been looking at my profile recently.

So my conclusion is- it's not random. Those are the people who look at your profile or who's profile you looked at or you communicated in any way recently. Can't be just a random thing. But fb will never admit it for f's sake, it would be the end of it.

My problem is now it's only my family that shows up on my profile friends list. Sucks!

It would make a lot of sense if it were people whose profile you view the most. Because then you're obviously interested in them. And it would make even more sense for facebook to hire people to write the opposite in forums all over the internet (it wouldn't be the first time that a company did that; in fact, there have been many cases in the news about fake customer reviews etc. and there are agencies specialised in providing these). Because then you, reading these forum discussions, would think, hey, actually the person whose profile I've been stalking might be interested in me as well!
If there is a company smart enough to do that, I would think it is facebook.

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