It's not unusual for Facebook to update its look, but this time, a new feature just seems cruel. Facebook has added a new relationship status function that allows users to "Ask" whether or not their friends are single, engaged or going through a divorce — and why. The button only shows up when a Facebook user leaves his or her relationship status empty on his "About" page, which means it may be time to fill out your profile to "It's complicated."
This is how the new "ask" function works: When you click the button on your friend's profile, a small text box pops up asking if you would like to "include a note" to your friend about his relationship status. If you already realized this was a mistake, then you can press cancel. Otherwise, you can send your friend the request, which will end up in their notifications folder.
Once your friend sees the message in his folder, he or she can select his relationship status from a drop-down menu similar to the relationship box on your Facebook profile. Your friend can then choose to share his relationship status with just you, his entire friends' list, or the general public. Or, he could choose to ignore your request and you'll have to go on guessing.
According to Arts Technica, Facebook has been rolling out this function since last January. A spokesman for the company didn't confirm how the private responses to the "Ask" requests would be handled, nor elaborate on why Facebook decided to add the feature.
Over the years, Facebook has been secretly nagging users to share more private details with their friends and acquaintances by installing new information-requesting functions. In 2013, for instance, the social media platform rolled out "Ask" buttons for personal contact details, such as cell phone numbers, emails, and even home addresses. The feature works similarly to the relationship status, as your friend will see the notification in his or her folder and can choose to ignore or share the information.
Currently, there's no opt-out button for either the personal contact or the relationship "Ask" features, so for now you'll just have to cope with the barrage of requests from your nosy family members and lovesick ex-boyfriends.
However, it looks like Facebook may not even need users to disclose these juicy details anymore: According to a recent study from Facebook Data Science, the social media network can predict when two people are going to couple up through the increase in timeline posts. And it gets creepier: Once the relationship starts, Facebook can tell how well it's going by analyzing the use of words such as "love," "happy" and "nice."
In the end, it looks like Facebook will always have a hand in matchmaking.