Posted on September 27th, 2016
Over the years, it has been a roller-coaster ride with various Facebook search techniques. For a long time, we could view the friends of any Facebook user, regardless of the friend privacy setting. Facebook eventually fixed this, and we moved on to other methods. Until recently, you could use the Facebook ID number of two people, and view their common friends, again regardless of their privacy setting for the friends list. In the past few days, Facebook has fixed this bug, and none of these methods work. We are left with two options.
The following URL will display the friends in common with two people. This will only work if both targets have their friends list set to be viewable by the public. The numbers should be replaced by the actual user ID numbers of your targets.
The original option that we used to obtain a list of friends in common with a private person will now only reveal two of the friends. This does still work if a person has their friends set to private, but we can no longer click the “mutual friends” link to see the complete list.
Facebook obviously (and responsibly) patched this loophole that we used for years. This makes me suspect that a new technique for identifying private friends will not surface any time soon. I have updated my Facebook Tools page to include these two options for convenience:
We must never forget that a manual analysis can often reveal the friends of a Facebook user that has a profile set to Private. Using the tools on my page to identify content not visible on a person’s profile, such as posts, comments, and tagged photos, will often provide more true friendship data than having a list identified as “Friends”.