News & Views
Facebook gets even nosier

Facebook and my mother have one thing in common; they both want to know if I’m still single. The social network is rolling out a new feature which will enable you to ask your Facebook friends about their relationship status and no doubt lead to all sorts of horrendously awkward conversations.

To be fair, this new ‘Ask’ function isn’t just designed to make singledom and the friend zone even more uncomfortable. People now have the ability to query any incomplete information on the ‘About’ section of your Facebook page; if you haven’t filled in your hometown, where you went to school, or where you work, people can send you a private request for that information.

You can then choose to send that user a reply, by filling in this section of your profile and only permitting that particular individual to see it. However, if somebody else asks you the same question, you can’t give them a different answer without changing your profile information. So if you’re trying to deflect unwanted affections by pretending to already have a partner, or you’re playing the field and want people to think you’re single… Things could get tricky.

“Needless to say, this could get a lot of people in trouble,” says Alyssa Bereznak at Yahoo! Tech. “In general, these are conversations that should probably be kept offline. And the fact that there is no “ignore” button built in yet is pretty disconcerting. You can simply not respond to the request, but then it won’t disappear.”

So far, there is no way to prevent the Ask button from appearing on your profile. For the time being, we are at the mercy of our friends’ nosiness.

“Make no mistake,” says The Daily Dot’s Kate Knibbs, “this is primarily a way for Facebook to goad users into putting more information up on Facebook without directly doing the goading. It’s nagging by proxy. People have always been able to ask their Facebook friends this stuff – that’s what texting and emails are for – so it’s far from a necessary function.”


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