Facebook has changed its friend-sorting algorithm a lot since its beginnings. Today, your Facebook profile shows images of nine people who are always on top of the list. You see these nine friends before you enter your friends’ list.
These lists spark confusion. Some people out of these nine may be users that you haven’t interacted with in a long time. Why does Facebook’s algorithm prioritize them then?
The exact algorithm that makes Facebook identify nine specific profiles is kept secret. However, there are certain parameters that are known to influence this order.
A String of Factors
There are many factors that can affect the Facebook algorithm. Because of this algorithm, some friend list choices may seem confusing. When you need to consider the location, time, interaction, profile clicks, frequency, and many other things, it is difficult to get a clear picture.
In this section, we will take a look at some of the parameters that influence the algorithm.
Facebook tracks how often you chat or exchange messages with certain people. Interactions include both individual and group chats. If you’ve recently interacted with the person, the chances of them appearing on your friends’ list are higher.
Sending Facebook Messages, commenting, liking, and tagging are all forms of communication on the platform. The users who you interact with the most may appear their order on your friends’ list.
The algorithm collects data about how often you view certain profiles. If the profile views are mutual, meaning that the person whose profile you often visit regularly checks up on your profile too, there’s a high chance they’ll appear on the list.
Although a bit intrusive, this method does make it easier to locate the profiles you’re most interested in. If you visit one profile more than others, it’s likely to appear on your friends’ list.
Profile interactions are not the same as communication. They are wall posts, post likes, and post comments. If you tag someone in your posts, you can increase the algorithm value, too.
Writing on someone’s wall by visiting their profile, or posting funny memes to their profile is a great way to ensure they’ll stay at the top of your friends’ list.
These interactions include all comments, likes, and tags in relation to photos on Facebook. For example, when you frequently like somebody’s photos, or when someone frequently tags you in their photos. It even includes photo views – how often you look at somebody’s photos and vice-versa.
Facebook’s algorithms even allow others to tag themselves in your photos. This can also contribute to the organization of your friends’ list.
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Although it is closely connected to profile views, Facebook Search is a separate factor. It takes into consideration how often your friends type your name into the search bar. If somebody searches you often and vice-versa, you are fueling the algorithm.
Mutual Friend Interactions
If you and another person have mutual friends and you both interact with them privately, you will climb up each other’s friends lists. Facebook bases a lot of its algorithms on mutual friends, so this parameter is important.
Your recent friends may also get on top of the list. This happens if you have some form of interaction or communication with them.
It is not uncommon that two or three out of nine of your top friends are all your recent friends. The Facebook algorithm looks to push the most recent activity on top.
If your friends are often logged in on Facebook and interact with different pages and profiles, they can move up on your list. The logic is that the people who are more often on Facebook will be those with who you will spend most of your time online.
If a person hasn’t been active for months, Facebook doesn’t consider them relevant.
What About Friends in Chat?
Your chat sidebar works in a similar way. The algorithm chooses interactions, activity, communication, photos, etc. This determines which friends will show up on top and have priority. The friends that you communicate with most often will usually be first on this list.
Do Your Friends List and Suggested Friends Share a Similar Algorithm?
If you have similar people popping up on your ‘People You May Know’ Facebook list, you are probably wondering if the algorithms are similar. Short answer: they are not.
Before, Facebook only used to consider the number of mutual friends. Today, we provide a lot of personal data that Facebook may use to refine friend recommendations. This data includes:
- Location: If you travel abroad and have mutual friends with some people that live nearby, Facebook will recommend them to you.
- Profile views: If someone recently viewed your profile, they might appear as a suggestion.
- Mutual friends: Just like in earlier days, having a lot of mutual friends with another person will encourage Facebook to recommend them to you.
- Connected third-party apps: Although Facebook officially denies it, there is a reason to believe this. After all, many users link their Facebook profiles with various apps. If you synced your Facebook account with platforms like Instagram, or even Tinder, it may suggest people that you interacted with on there.
Can You Change Your Friends List?
The friends’ list on your profile will update periodically. Unfortunately, you can’t choose which nine friends will appear. This list is automatically distributed and compiled by Facebook.
You can take control of your Facebook Friend’s list by creating new lists and managing existing ones. Facebook lists consist of: Acquaintances, Close Friends, and ‘Restricted’.
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The Restricted list only shows the users you add the content that you’ve made public. If it’s a teacher, nosey aunt, or other Facebook member, you can add them as a friend but they won’t see any of your status updates that are private.
To manage your Facebook Friends’ List follow these steps:
- Log into Facebook on a web browser
- Look at the left-hand side of the screen and locate the ‘Explore’
- Click on ‘See More’
- Click on ‘Friend Lists’
- Choose ‘Create List’
- Name your list and type in the names of the users you’d like to add
If you’d like to add other users to the existing lists available
- Click on the list you’d like to add friends to
- Click on “Add Friends to List”
- Either type their name in the Search box or click on the profile icons available.
Although Facebook hasn’t revealed their algorithm for your nine friends that appear first, you can take control of the content other users see and how your Facebook activities interact with friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have some more answers to your questions about Facebook’s friends’ lists:
If someone is at the top of my list, does that mean they’re stalking me?
Not necessarily. As stated above the true inner-workings of Facebook’s ordering system is still unknown, but even today there are no confirmed reports that the person at the top of your friends’ list is viewing your profile. It’s more likely that these people live close to you or interact with your posts often.
Unfortunately, Facebook offers no features for users to see who is visiting their profile so the only way to know if someone is stalking your page is if they are interacting with your posts (ever had a friend like a post from 9 years ago? Yeah, they were scrolling through your feed).
Is Facebook limiting the posts I see to 25 friends?
An old meme is still circulating on Facebook that stated the new algorithm will only show you posts from certain friends. This is untrue and there are several reasons we know that it is untrue. For starters, Facebook is all about engagement (getting people to interact, comment, share, and like each others’ posts) so it would go completely against the nature of the site to limit whose content you can see.
Second, if you scroll through your News Feed you’ll likely see posts from people who you don’t interact with often.
Can I change the way Facebook shows my friends?
Unfortunately, no. Outside of the option we’ve listed above, your Facebook friends’ list is automatically organized for you. From your profile page you’ll see nine friends (and based on our latest tests, these were the ones we’ve added recently). If you click on the option to view all of your Facebook friends, you’ll see a random list that seems to follow the algorithm we’ve mentioned above.