In social media terms, Facebook is already the guy at the bar who is reading your phone over your shoulder, making a note of your drink order, and grabbing a selfie with you without your permission (basically photobombing your entire life). And it just got creepier.
Facebook is now asking you about your relationship, and more importantly, allowing others to ask you about your relationship. Facebook is sidling up to you at a bus stop, when you’re minding your own business, and starting a conversation with a laboured, “So…” Facebook is inquiring whether you come here often, except it already knows you do, because all of your activity has a time stamp.
For its next trick, the social media behemoth is testing out a new function to allow users to “ask” others about their relationship status, Gizmodo reports, as long as their status is set to private or undisclosed. You might think omitting this information is a clear sign that you’d rather not share it with the world; but Facebook sees it as the green light to allow people to ask, so, like, what’s going on with that?
For a while now, Mark Zuckerberg has prompted users to fill in certain information on their profile page, which may have been left blank. He wants to know your hometown, and where you went to university.
Openly encouraging users to pester other people, however, is a new development. It’s clear that Facebook is looking to cash in on the success of Tinder and Down, the Facebook add-on which encouraged casual campus hook-ups. Online dating is big business. Sex sells. Facebook has always been a part of sniffing out potential beaus, but has never explicitly before tried to get in on the action, like a winking waiter lingering a little too long on a first date. Of course, the data collected on the reasons behind individuals’ relationship status will also be very useful to Facebook and its advertisers.
Essentially, this is Bridget Jones’ worst nightmare. Pre-internet, the worst thing about being single was enduring distant relatives pointing out your singleness. Or a Saturday night spent listening to the tumbleweed roll through your empty womb. Or your mum asking why a handsome young man like you didn’t have a girlfriend. And then asking whether you were gay.
The worst thing about being married was watching with envy as your single, childless friends got to disco-hop across sticky nightclub floors. The worst thing about being in a civil partnership was longing to be in a same-sex marriage. The worst thing about being in an open relationship was, well, everything about being in an open relationship.
Now, the worst thing about all of these things is that people have the option, should they want to, to ask you about it.