[Air-L] facebook evidence?

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Sun Sep 26 17:12:16 PDT 2010

hi Barry,

I've been wondering about this too, but I think the very first response (as
I remember it) is the simplest, and must be correct for both logical and
empirical reasons.

The original poster had made his/her mailbox visible to facebook, and
facebook got his contacts just for the purpose of suggesting friends.

To prove it for yourself, follow these steps (i have done it):
create a new email account, with either completely fake information, or
partly correct and partly fake information.
use this email account to create a new facebook account. fill the facebook
account with as much or as little correct information you like, as long as
you don't allow it to make connections to other FB accounts that you

I can do this, and find an "empty" facebook page, with (apparently) no idea
about how to connect this "new person" to anybody at all.

if facebook were doing any kind of background magic, it would be based on
IPs and cookies and so forth that would override this attempt to create a
false, "shell" identity. it doesn't.

a second, correlative proof: some people have both personal and professional
facebook accounts, for legitimate reasons (mostly people who use facebook as
a promotional tool for their books, movies, etc., as well as a personal one
for their "real" friends that is largely private). If you have ever done
this--and thus possibly used information that is related to but not
identical with your "real" persona--you find that account only with the
logical information it can derive from whatever email account you give it.

furthermore, if you have done this, when you go to "facebook affiliates," eg
yelp, yiou get to choose which of your facebook accounts to link to that
site--IF you notice the optional nature of the link--but I, at least, have
never found information bleeding through from my personal account to my
"professional" one, and this would absolutely happen if they were using
serious algorithmic methods to work this out (which is not to say they
won't--but i don't think they have).

the magic is that there is no magic algorithm. i'll stand corrected, but i
feel certain this is correct. this makes it all the more worrisome, to me,
that such things look like magic. that means what people like the n $ a,
g00gl3, and our other friends, is SO far beyond the capacity of most people
to imagine, that it is completely beyond democratic control. the same is
true of biotech. we have got to find a way to undo this. and not by forcing
everyone to learn electrical or bio-engineering.

in the hole

On Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 6:28 PM, Barry Wellman <wellman at chass.utoronto.ca>wrote:

> I've learned a lot from the Facebook discussion about how "matches" are
> made,* but mostly it has been deduction, conjecture and anecdote.
> *****Does anybody have any really reliable, verifiable evidence  about how
> Facebook matches are actually made?
> *And reinforced my own reasons for not on FBook, altho I am on Twitter.
>  Barry Wellman
>  _______________________________________________________________________
>  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC               NetLab Director
>  Department of Sociology                  725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388
>  University of Toronto   Toronto Canada M5S 2J4   twitter:barrywellman
>  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman<http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/%7Ewellman>            fax:+1-416-978-3963
>  Updating history:      http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
>  _______________________________________________________________________
> _______________________________________________
> The Air-L at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
> is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
> Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at:
> http://listserv.aoir.org/listinfo.cgi/air-l-aoir.org
> Join the Association of Internet Researchers:
> http://www.aoir.org/

David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com

More information about the Air-L mailing list