Social networks & friend recommendations

Just a quick thought, or question, which I’ve talked about with a few people recently and which keeps bugging me: Is there any reason why so many (all?) social networking sites won’t give you the following two features:

  1. Introduce two of your friends/connections (“i think you two might totally hit it off!”)
  2. Show potential common friends/connections (“You know person A and person B. Both of them know person C. You might either know C yourself, or otherwise you two might have something to talk about!” Imagine this like a kind of pre-emptive “common friends” list….)

Is it a math problem, or a privacy prob? Am I just over-looking one of those features? Neither Facebook, nor Xing/OpenBC seem to allow for this kind of social interaction. (LinkedIn might have it, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.)

However, this is so inherently important for any kind of social network, online or offline: Just imagine you go to a party or conference, see two of your friends chatting with a third person. Chances are you’d get along, or at least might have something in common. (At least two acquaintances, and that’s a pretty good conversation starter, isn’t it?)

Not quite sure which option I’d prefer: No.1, where users make their own recommendations: High quality, comparatively high barrier & effort. Or No.2, where an algorithm determines who you might want to get in touch with, i.e. your computer decides: Less conscious effort, but potentially more noise?

Curious about your feedback (via comments, via mail)!