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Scientists develop algorithm able to lure people into accepting friend requests

How can you convince a complete stranger to accept your friend request? You use this newly developed algorithm to create a ‘pathway’ of friends leading ultimately to the desired ‘target’. Sounds like an infiltration strategy, but it’s only a clever algorithm.

So far, to make friends in social networks you had either to send a friend request to a real acquaintance, or pick a name from the recommended “friends” list and hope for the best. However, this is the passive way. The team of computer scientists that developed this new algorithm aims to offer an alternative befriending method, where a user actively specifies a “friend” target. According to Yang and colleagues, until now “a recommendation designed to provide guidance for a user to systematically approach his friending target, has not been explored in existing on-line social networking services.

The algorithm will manipulate users with intelligent suggestions to friend each other, creating a circle of mutual friends that will have a higher probability to sway the final target into accepting a friend request. It would actually trick the stranger, making them believe they do have a mutual social circle. Until now, social media don’t offer this kind of underhanded “friend” approaches.

The running example

Although it has an interesting potential, this algorithm needs to be embedded in the social network itself to work, and it will be rather difficult for social networks like Facebook to add such a ‘shady’ feature. At least officially…

For reference (or vice), the algorithm is called: emph{Selective Invitation with Tree and In-Node Aggregation (SITINA)}.

 Source: Arxiv.org paper 1302.7025

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