You want to be Facebook friends with a celebrity or some other target that you don’t know, but the cagey celebrity ignores your friend request. There has to be a better way, right? Now a team of Chinese, American, and Taiwanese computer scientists, headed by Wei Chen at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, has announced that they have developed an algorithm to maximize the chances that you’ll connect with your future friend.
The researchers explained:
“Most friending recommendation services today aim to support passive friending, where a user passively selects friending targets from the recommended candidates. We advocate active friending, where a user actively specifies a friending target.”
In other words, don’t sit on your hands and wait, just passively hoping that your target will respond to your request. Put the team’s formula to work, which they called Acceptance Probability Maximization (APM). The process of active friending seems to basically consist of having the program chart various routes across the social network in order to find a possible connection. It will also seek out friends in common — or suggest ways for you to connect with other people to create the illusion of having friends in common.
The target, then noticing your common links, is theoretically much more likely to accept your Facebook friends invitation.
The MIT Technology Review reported that Wei tested their algorithm on 169 Facebook users. They were asked to try to acquire the target friends in two ways — the old approach of just using their Facebook invitations and the new way of following the recommendations given by the test program.
According to Wei’s team, it worked. A lot more people were accepted as friends if they followed the route charted out by the program than if they just tried to do it themselves.
Not everyone was thrilled by the idea. A commenter to MIT’s blog called “lund1967” grumbled, “Pretending to be friends with someone to be friends with someone else? What is this, junior high?”
Bob Yirka, reporting for Phys.Org found the fatal flaw. “The algorithm only works if implemented by the social network itself because they are the only ones that can analyze the structure of friend relationships between different individuals who don’t know each other or have any friends in common,” Yirka noted. He didn’t see a reason for Facebook to ever implement such a program, because “it would seem contrary to their most basic philosophy.”
Wei didn’t say why Facebook would want to install that option, but, if you read between the lines, it seems that the researchers think it might make a great paid option for the determined stalker … erm, user.
Would you use an “active friending” service to help you get celebrity Facebook friends?