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Facebook keeps spamming me with different variations of "Friend Finder", "Find more friends" & co (mostly on the right column, where the ads belong), and I'm just wondering: why are they doing that?

I already have more than 250 friends, so they could see that I'm not new to Facebook, and it's likely that I already added almost all of my friends and people-I-know-enough-to-be-considered-by-Facebook-as-a-friend. So their goal is not to help me find real friends (that is, somehow improve my Facebook experience), but just to add more connections to their social graph. So if there is no interest for me in that, there must be some interest for them, but I don't see it.

Also my primary thought was that more friends = more information about me = more targeted advertising = more profit for them, but I'm really not sure if adding people who are not my real friends would help Facebook target me better...

What's the explanation?

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5 Answers 5

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First, Facebook as a whole is more valuable if it maximises user volumes. So they're never going to stop wanting you to add that new friend from some other address book.

Second, the Facebook experience is pretty lame if you have only a few Facebook friends. So creating a new link may be a marginal value gain for you, but it may help the other party get into the sweet spot and become a regular and committed user.

More speculatively, Facebook ads themselves seem (from what I get offered, anyway), pretty feeble, so maybe there's an element of Facebook improving your general perception of the right-hand column by sometimes not even showing you some horrible, mis-targeted ad and just doing self-promotion, not caring all that much whether you respond. In this case, you've responded indirectly by talking about Facebook, I'm making a mental note to see if I am getting that same treatment, and we're both even more bought into the idea that Facebook is an unassailable, valuable site in a way that Myspace and other toppled social media towers must not have been!

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"creating a new link may be a marginal value gain for you, but it may help the other party get into the sweet spot and become a regular and committed user." That's a good point! –  Jules Olléon Dec 21 '10 at 23:34

for the same reason you stay living in one place- social connections however weak they are keep you from leaving- more connections less chance of you leaving. I have turned Facebook off several times only to turn it back on because there are a few people I can only contact through Facebook. I have eliminated about 250 people who are really not my friends. I don't know if anyone remembers this but at the beginning Facebook urged people to add ONLY people they actually knew now its a free for all- Facebook will topple just like MySpace and the others. Its not really a social network anymore- with ads and people having business pages and even coworkers who arent friends but you feel guilty not adding them or family members even. How about old high school people who you were never friends with? People who like the same band? I only follow about 10 people.

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To take a less cynical viewpoint, Facebook may also want you to be continually finding new ways to enjoy their network, and finding new friends may be the way to do that.

Your 250 friends are all of the ones you've thought to add or that have added you. But what about your buddy from middle school that moved away and has just started rediscovering some of your hometown friends? You may not have found him if not for that feature, and finding out what he's up to now just might make your day. Furthermore, different people on Facebook are into different applications, so adding new friends exposes you to different applications that you might really like.

Facebook wants to keep you on their site (yes, OK, for ad revenue), and exposing you to more friends is likely to do that.

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While your theory is probably right, there's another benefit to adding more friends: more friends means more activity on your homepage and you are more likely to find Facebook useful because you will have a steady stream of new updates, making you spend more time and share more information via Facebook.

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my primary thought was that more friends = more information about me = more targeted advertising = more profit for them,

This sounds about right.

Though as you point out someone with 250 friends is unlikely to be able to add any more "real" friends.

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