The "Nefarious O Value" Facebook Stalker TheoryYesterday we posted five theories about the mysterious Facebook Stalker feature—the one some people think is an undercover way to identify those ex-lovers who are still pining for you, although that is totally unconfirmed and probably false. But we have to admit, none of those theories involved any weird computer language or technical terms. But an astute reader has sent us a theory that, based on the fact that I can't really understand its technical talk, sounds very insightful. We'll call it the "Nefarious O Value" theory. The full email is after the jump.

It was part of the autocomplete for the search box. The file the server sent when you clicked on the search box was a big list of Friends and groups (that it used to autocomplete when you type) like this:

{"t":"[Dude's Name]","i":2401357,"u":"http:\/\/www.facebook.com\/profile.php

?id=2401357","o":216,"it":"","n":"Northwestern"}

for me the "o:" value here is 216 for the vast majority of the names,
216 being my total number of friends, but some are lower - lo and
behold people with 0-4 are the five people that show up in the search
box

o's just a ranking thing, like so when you type "a" it uses the o
value to figure out which names should come first, then everything
that's 216 is just in alphabetical order

The only thing that remains is how they computed the o values, I
assume the method was something nefarious. Anyway it's gone now, but I
hope this helps. I'm not affiliated with facebook or anything.