If you’ve ever been minding your own business on Facebook, only to be stunned by the image of your last creepy Tinder match appearing in your Facebook-suggested friends, you are not alone. According to Vice’s Motherboard, online daters are noticing a strange connection between dating sites such as Tinder, Grindr, and OkCupid, and the Facebook profiles they thought included only family members and thousands of their closest friends.
The first assumption might be that Facebook and the online dating apps are cross-sharing information. Between retargeting and other marketing efforts, it’s becoming commonplace for Facebook to provide us with ads promoting the exact size-6 ankle booties you were just thinking about purchasing, just as much as it is a platform to shamelessly stalk your high school crush. Researchers have recently found that Facebook may track you, even when you opt out of behavioral advertising, for as long as two years afterward.
When it comes to dating apps and Facebook, however, it doesn’t really benefit either to share information. Instead, the reason your dating and Facebook lives may be converging against your will is much less nefarious and likely has to do with how you use your cell phone. Facebook does select your People You May Know from its “imported contacts,” a feature one opts into with mobile apps. Even if you don’t recall opting in, you may have connected while your phone was syncing or updating. You can remedy the problem of your Tinder matches showing up in your suggested friends by checking and removing them from your invite history page on Facebook.
Another possibility is that people you search for on Facebook might eventually show up on your list as suggested friends because the Facebook algorithm assumes you’re interested in that person. If you are connected to that person through mutual friends, college, or any other element used in Facebook’s algorithm, the chances increase that he or she will show up in your suggested friends.
Or, it could just be a strange, creepy coincidence, which probably doesn’t help much if you really don’t want to be reminded of bad Tinder dates. For now though, dating apps are likely not to blame.