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Beyond page rank algorithms: Facebook’s 2010 purchase of Octazen

This article discusses Facebooks 2010 purchase of a company known as Octazen. Octazen was a company known for scraping websites and creating cross company login pages on the internet. The purchase of Octazen by Facebook in 2010 was presented to the public by Facebook representatives as an acquisition of talent and engineers to work on API imports that allow what is known to the common person as “Login with Facebook” features. Since the acquisition in 2010 Facebook has notably become more well known for their login features on other companies’ websites, so undoubtably Facebook has followed through on their initial plan of expanding this feature. Additionally, though, this article speculates as to the use of Octazen’s talent and software to be used for web scraping on other websites in order to gain more information about users and refine their “suggested friends” or “people you may know” algorithm.

“The people you may know” section of Facebook has also made several strides since the acquisition of Octazen. This portion of the page relates to what we have been learning in class because one of the most basic algorithms for identifying people you may know is creating a basic network and identifying potential closures. To expand upon this though the next most basic algorithm for identifying “people you may know” might be to treat each person as a page in a page rank algorithm which treats posts on friends’ pages as links between pages. This algorithm however overly simplifies the treatment of these friends pages as there are different ways pages can link between each other such as video’s shared on a page, direct messages, tagged photos together. Obviously some of these features have gone into creating an algorithm, but until Facebook reveals more about its algorithm and the current data they have, the scraping they do, and the differing weights they place on different page(user) relations we can only really speculate about the differing smaller algorithms that may go into creating one of Facebook’s creepiest, yet useful, features, “People you may know”.


Octazen: What The Heck Did Facebook Just Buy Exactly, And Why?


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October 2016