Facebook can be a wonderful thing, a good way to stay in touch with family and friends. It can also be the source of profoundly obnoxious behavior. The latest “feature” on the site, though, might just push that last to new heights: You can now “Ask” somebody about their relationship status.
This has been a feature on the site for a while: You can click on a link in profile information and send an instant message to someone asking for their phone number or email address. But this is the first time it’s been added to the Relationship Status field and given a button of its very own. In fact, according to Business Insider, it sends an automatic message and of course, you can tailor the intrusiveness.
The idea for consumers, of course, is that you can find out if you have a shot with your Facebook crush, which you don’t because you just asked them on Facebook about their sex lives. But this isn’t really for the consumers; it’s for Facebook.
Facebook makes a lot of money selling ads, as we all know, and relationship status is a big part of that ad targeting. Advertisers and marketing companies love milestones, as anybody who has gotten married or given birth can tell you, because it marks one of the few times they can shake up your brand loyalties.
With that status blank, Facebook is operating in the dark… and it hates that. So this is a subtle way for Facebook to make you cough up that data and use it to target ads. And if that means they have to use your “friends” to annoy it out of you, by God, they’ll make that happen.