If your Facebook friends list is looking a little empty, you might want to look for a new feature in the app that’s designed to help you make new connections with people on the network.
Presently rolling out worldwide across Android and iOS, It’s called ‘Discover People’, and it lets you see a list of profiles of users who are attending the same event as you are, as well as those who live in your town and those who are employed by your company.
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The feature excludes people you’ve already friended on Facebook, so you’re only shown profiles that you haven’t connected with yet.
I’m not sure how I feel about this just yet. I generally prefer using Facebook to stay in touch with people I know in real life. It looks like Facebook is trying to give you an ice-breaker to work with (‘Hey, we’re going to the same concert/conference/party/pop-up store’) – but is that enough to actually make a connection without coming off as creepy or odd?
With other options like Tinder Social, it’s obvious that you’re looking for people to hang out with: Everyone on that network knows what they’re getting into. With Discover People, the distinction between a regular Facebook user and one looking to make new friends doesn’t seem quite so clear.
Plus, there are other ways to connect with people you have things in common with. For example, there are loads of Groups you can join and chat with people about topics you’re interested in or activities near you.
As TechCrunch notes, there’s also a privacy issue to think about here. While you have a lot of control over which parts of your profile and posts are shown to people you aren’t friends with, events display all attendees (even those who are just ‘interested) publicly. That could be a problem if you have a stalker or want to avoid people with whom you have a difficult relationship.
Instead of switching on Discover People for everyone, Facebook would do well to let users know more about how the feature works and let them opt into the experience, rather than exposing them to potential harassment and unwanted messages from strangers.
To try it for yourself, tap on the menu button with three lines and scroll past Friends, Events, and Saved to find the Discover People feature. It’s still being rolled out, so there’s a chance that you may not be able to spot it immediately.