Secret file shows how Facebook ranks search results
Installing a small bookmarklet will show you a secret file that Facebook uses to rank your friends.
Matt ElliottSenior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Are you curious how Facebook orders your search results as you enter letters into the search box? Thanks to a developer stumbling upon a Facebook file and creating a bookmarklet, now you can view a hidden file that shows how Facebook ranks your friends.
As the developer, Jeremy Keeshin, explains on his site, thekeesh.com, he was working on autocomplete search functionality for a new Web site and was wondering how Facebook returned its results so quickly. What he found was a file that Facebook uses to rank a user's search results. He then created a bookmarklet that displays these secret rankings, or as Jeremy says, "Basically, you will find a list which is mostly who Facebook thinks you are Facebook stalking."
The list is ordered with those you interact most with on Facebook listed at the top and getting a negative number. As you move down the list, the numbers turn positive and grow larger.
At the end of my list, I found names of people I am not friends with on Facebook, making me wonder how they made the list. Is it because they searched for me or landed on my page? Are they friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends? Also, the top person listed (after my egocentric self, that is) is an honest-to-goodness Facebook friend of mine, but he is not someone I interact with regularly or have recently. It was his birthday last week, but I didn't even extend the common Facebook courtesy of a birthday wall post. While his wall got a lot of attention last week, none of it was from me. Thus, your results, while interesting, may contain a few oddities.
Installing the bookmarklet is easy. Head to thekeesh.com and find the post titled, "Who Does Facebook Think You Are Searching For?" Follow Jeremy's instructions to drag the image (pictured above) or the "Facebook Friends" link below it to your bookmarks bar. Then go to your Facebook page and click on the bookmark. It will display the ranked list of your Facebook friends (along with, perhaps, some nonfriends).
I tried it in Firefox and Chrome and found that dragging the image didn't work, but the link did. You will need to turn off HTTPS, however, for it to work. In Chrome, for example, go to Preferences > Under the hood and make sure "Use SSL 3.0" is unchecked.
Care to hazard a guess as to how Facebook comes up with the rankings? If so, hit the comments below.