Facebook seems to hold the key to an abundance of information on people around us, thanks to its constantly changing algorithms and progressive data processing.
However, many people are still unsure of the specifics of how our activities are interpreted and returned in this digital world. For example, what’s the implication of a simple Facebook search?
In this article, we will look a little deeper into the Facebook search algorithm and answer the question; “If I search someone on Facebook will they know?”
In short; NO. Generally, a Facebook search is private. If you do a simple search of someone’s name on your Facebook search, the person will not be notified. As long as you don’t engage with the person’s content.
But do not get too excited yet!
Have you ever noticed that when you do a specific search on Facebook, for example, you search for a particular shoe shop and check out their page, the next few days (or weeks), Facebook almost floods your feed with many other shoe shops you didn’t ask for or even know about, ever wondered why?
That is the work of the Facebook search algorithm.
This means that while the entity you search for may not know you’ve done so, Facebook will, and the algorithm retains your search info and uses it to ‘feed your Facebook feed’, and probably other people’s!
Facebook’s search algorithm: How does Facebook search work exactly?
Facebook’s search algorithm processes user queries by taking into consideration factors such as relevance, popularity, and recency to rank potential matches to your search.
The algorithm, aided by the suggestions and auto-complete features tailors your search results specifically to you based on your user profile, connections, and activities on the platform, which enables it to give you relevant and personalized results.
Note that the search results you get are also influenced by the searched party’s privacy settings. Facebook lets users customize the visibility of their information, posts, and friend lists on the platform.
If someone has restricted any of the info you want; if they don’t have it set to Public that is, you will not see that information or any results at all. These privacy settings ensure that users maintain control over who can access their data.
Additionally, when you search for something, the algorithm retains your search data and assumes you are interested in similar info so it adds it to your feed, like the shoe shop in the previous example.
If I search for someone on Facebook will they know?
As I said earlier, Facebook searches are typically private. When you search for someone they will not be notified in any way that you have done so.
So if you want to check on a long-lost relative or maybe even stalk your ex to see what they are up to these days, by all means, go right ahead!
However, if you take your search a step further by tapping the Add friend button, whether intentionally or mistakenly, the other person will surely be notified that you sent them a friend request.
Also, if you like, comment, or share on any of their posts, they will see you in the list of likes, comments and shares so they will know you checked them out.
Also Read: How to Remove Share Button on Facebook
Facebook ‘people you may know’ stalking
Ever been irritated by constantly stumbling across the “People you may know” section while you are busy scrolling through your Facebook feed? And it’s sometimes filled with unexpected people you don’t know or even wouldn’t care to know, right?
Well, you are not alone.
While the ‘People you may know’ feature is designed to enhance your social networking experience, sometimes it just feels like Facebook (or someone) is stalking you! And you might be wondering about how this happens and its implications for your privacy.
Though sometimes the suggested people are completely unknown to you and that’s simply a source of irritation, there are times you see some suggested people that you probably forgot about from your past, or people you wouldn’t even consider having any contact with, and Facebook seems to have pulled them out of its proverbial “hat”.
This would naturally make you uneasy and probably wonder how Facebook seems to know so much about you.
And of course, if Facebook is suggesting these people to you, chances are very high that it is suggesting you to these people as well.
But before you start worrying, note that Facebook’s algorithm takes into account aspects like your mutual friends, shared interests, the workplace or education information you filled in, and geographical proximity to suggest to you people you may know.
However, if you feel uncomfortable with the level of precision and detail in these suggestions, you can adjust your privacy settings and limit who can see your friend list, send you friend requests, and limit the overall visibility of your profile information.
You can do this by going to your Profile > Settings and Privacy > Settings > Privacy.
This may give you some sense of security and limit suggestions to the people you may know section on both sides.
The Facebook search feature in relation to ‘people you may know’
As you make your private searches on Facebook, it is important to keep in mind that the search feature and the people you may know feature are intricately connected.
In fact, they may even depend on each other in some instances.
For example, if you search for person A on Facebook and view their profile, and it so happens that you and person A have 1 or a couple of mutual friends, the Facebook algorithm is probably going to pick up on this connection, and in the not-so-far future, you might find people from person A’s circle in your people you may know section, being suggested to you as potential friends.
Can someone on Facebook tell if you look at their pictures?
No, someone can’t tell if you simply look at their Facebook pictures. They will only know if you like, comment, or share their pictures.
How can I find someone on Facebook without them knowing?
If you want to find someone on Facebook without them knowing you are trying to do so, you can try one of these options:
* Use the Facebook search option, as seen in this article, the person won’t know when you search for them.
* If you have mutual friends with the person you are trying to find, just go to these friends’ profiles and check their friend lists for that person.
*When you do find the person’s profile and check out their posts, pictures, and whatnot, do not engage with their content if you don’t want them to know you’re checking them out; do not like, comment, share…
When you search for someone on Facebook do they get a friend suggestion?
Not particularly. Searching for someone on Facebook doesn’t warrant a friend request to that person.
The Facebook ‘People you may know’ feature is not necessarily based on an individual search.
It instead suggests potential friends based on mutual connections, shared interests, workplace or education information, and other factors.
Can someone know if I viewed their Facebook story?
Yes, right at the bottom of the Story screen, there’s a view count, and when the story owner clicks on it they will see you on the list of viewers.
Why is the same person always at the top of my suggested friends list?
If someone is always at the top of your “People you may know” list, it is probably because you share mutual friends, are interested in the same events, are part of the same groups, or your profile has info that overlaps; for example, location, residence, school and the like.
It does not necessarily mean that the person looked at or is looking at your profile a lot.
Why would Facebook suggest someone with no mutual friends?
Mutual friends are not the only determinant of the friend suggestions Facebook gives you.
If you are seeing friend suggestions of people you have no mutual friends with, it could be because the algorithm has picked up on other factors such as your engagement in groups or events, similarities in your profile to those people’s, shared interests, and geographical proximity, among other factors.
Do Facebook ‘People you may know’ suggestions go both ways?
Yes, they do. If the Facebook algorithm suggests a certain person to you in your ‘people you may know’ section, you are probably also going to appear in that person’s PYMK section.
Does interacting with someone’s profile increase the chances of them appearing in my ‘People You May Know’ list?
Yes, if you actively interact with someone’s profile, such as liking their posts or sending a friend request, Facebook may use that interaction as a signal to suggest them in your ‘People You May Know’ list or vice versa.
Does Facebook keep a record of my search history on the platform?
Yes. Facebook retains your search history, but it is visible only to you the account holder. Other users cannot see your individual search history on the platform.
In closing, your Facebook searches are yours and yours alone. Facebook does not notify someone when you search for them.
However, just like in any other digital space, it is important to respect the privacy of other users as you navigate the platform.
It’s also essential to note that other interactions beyond a mere search can have implications. For example, sending a friend request, liking and commenting on posts, or engaging with their profile may trigger notifications depending on the person’s privacy settings.