Facebook has been accused of "outing" the real names and personal details of sex workers and porn stars.

According to several reports, the People You May Know feature, which creates friend recommendations for social media users, has repeatedly connected sex workers' anonymous, client-focused accounts with their personal profiles.

While the exact data Facebook uses to determine friend recommendations is unknown, it is thought that the algorithm uses as many as "100 signals" from each account. Facebook has denied that it uses third-party app or location data for the feature.

Talking to Gizmodo, a female sex worker going under the alias "Leila" explained how her real-life identity had been shared with clients' smartphones – a scenario that potentially puts her at great risk of stalking, blackmail, and harassment.

"The worst nightmare of sex workers is to have your real name out there and Facebook connecting people like this is the harbinger of that nightmare," she said. "With all the precautions we take and the different phone numbers we use, why the f**k are they showing up?"

In a separate case, the manager of a virtual reality adult cam network, Ela Darling, talked of her own experience after her private account was 'recommended' to fans. Darling noted that she had since deleted her personal account to protect both herself and her family from harassment.

"We're living in an age where you can weaponise personal information against people," Darling said. "Facebook isn't a luxury. It's a utility in our lives. For something that big to be so secretive and powerful in how it accumulates your information is unnerving."

Facebook responded to the complaints by outlining its privacy polices and features which include options allowing users to moderate comments, block and report other users, and control their location-sharing settings.

"We take privacy seriously and of course want to make sure people have a safe and positive experience on Facebook," a spokesperson said, before later adding: "We want to do our best to prevent these things from happening and we do care about people's privacy. We fell short here, and we will do better."

This is far from the first time Facebook and other social media platforms' automated functions have come under fire. Just last month a rape and death threat was accidentally used to advertise Instagram to a user's friends and family on Facebook.