Facebook may be the world’s largest social network, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been plagued with issues and privacy concerns. Rarely an year passes by and the company faces intense questioning over the security of its users’ data as well as scrutiny surrounding a number of feature additions. After a period of calm, that scrutiny looks set to re-emerge when Facebook took the decision to add an “Ask” button onto profiles, allowing us all to query the different aspects of people we’re connected with, including their relationship.
Yes, you read that right, for some strange reason it hasn’t become clear to us why Facebook has decided to take a small step into the weird by adding a new option onto the profiles of those who have opted to keep certain information about themselves a secret. Some of us like to keep parts of our private lives hidden when using social networks. That could involve declining to confirm whether or not you’re married, single, dating or just enjoying life as a single individual. If you fall in that category then Facebook is going to allow your friends and connections to pry into that side of your life through the use of the new Ask button.
Inquisitive friends, colleagues, acquaintances and ex-school friends will be invited to press the Ask button before being presented with an additional popup box to supply any specific details about their enquiry. Those Facebook users on the receiving end of the enquiry will receive a notification informing them that you have “requested their [information]“. They then have the option to select a status from a drop down list of options, choose to make it private or public and hit Save. Alternatively, they can be offended that you would pry into their life and simply select the Ignore option instead. Then probably never talk to you again.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this. Regular Facebook users will already be aware that the network regularly prompts for additional information to be supplied in order to make profiles as complete and engaging as possible. This newly added “feature” comes across as nothing more than a relatively innovative way of getting that additional information onto profiles of those who have chosen to not include it.
Surely it was omitted for a reason. Time will tell how users react to this one.