- The "It's People YOU Search For" Theory
A passionate reader writes: "jesus.... PLEASE correct that facebook post. it's the five people whom YOU SEARCH FOR most often... not the other way around. it's driving me crazy reading through all the comments seeing people getting mad at facebook for absolutely no reason."
- The "It's A Coding Error" Theory
From a Facebook discussion thread: "I suspect it's meant to be the people whose profiles you look at the most, but that they're referring to the wrong statistics (human coding error) and it's actually the 5 who look at yours most. I think it's a mistake because Facebook wouldn't do something like that deliberately, it goes against their ethos of anonymous browsing, but it definitely refers to a statistic that they're keeping, and between the [limited] information that the coding context gives and the nature of the names (after cross-referencing with 7 of my friends), I'd say they're accidentally calling up the 5 people who browse you the most."
- The "Search Frequency" Theory
A reader attempts to parse the Facebook algorithm: "I have a theory. I think it's matching the frequency of times that you search for someone with the frequency of times that people search for you and it's an attempt at interpreting who your best friends are."
- The "It's NOT The People You Search For" Theory
A commenter tries the process of elimination: "eek — okay so i went on my secret stalking-only facebook page, where i have no friends, and tried it. nothing came up, which makes sense, cause it's a whack name. however, the people i use it to stalk didn't show up either, which means it cannot be tracking the people we stalk."
- The "Facebook Says You Like These People" Theory
A commenter claims to go directly to the source: "OK, my friend emailed her friend that works for the Good Book and here was the response (emphasis mine): This is the canned response we've been using:
The five friends that you see below the search box are populated based on people whom we think you'd be most interested in. Taking into account various factors, we attempt to make an educated guess as to who it is you're looking for when you start typing a name in the search box. Please note that this information is only visible to you and will not be shared with your friends. We hope that this feature is helpful and we appreciate your feedback. Let me know if you have further questions."
[UPDATE: Although the "down arrow" feature seems to have been disabled, you can still pull up the list of five by typing a period (".") in the search box.]