So Facebook has started making relationship pages for users in relationships. This is a typical Facebook move, because it magically turned up, there’s no way to opt-out, and there’s already the predictable backlash of privacy concerns. By now we all know that the best way to keep information private is NOT by sharing it on Facebook, right? Because I was writing about Facebook introducing new features that use shared users’ info in unexpected ways back in 2006.
The Facebook relationship page falls short … for two reasons. First, the Facebook relationship page is public, although why anyone wants to view it is still beyond me, and second, users can’t curate the content in any way, whether by highlighting wedding photos or hiding that lame post about losing one’s cellphone. This creates a generic, automatic page, listing the movies both parties mutually enjoy, and all the links they’ve tagged each other in. Oh, and you can’t turn off your relationship page.
Who’s going to be even a little bit interested in looking at a relationship page? The couple probably knows more shared favorite movies than happen to be mutually listed on Facebook, and probably has better photos, too. I can’t imagine that anyone outside the relationship would care.
Perhaps the point is to encourage users to add more likes, adding their shared movies, books, and interests, to fill out a bare relationship page. Facebook adverts are big business, and the more information a user shares, the better advertisers can target their ads. With one’s age, gender, location, relationship status, employer, and all of one’s hobbies listed, Facebook is a data mine for behavior patterns, shopping trends, and targeted ads. Could the purpose behind Facebook’s relationship pages be not a benefit for users in relationships, but a benefit for advertisers interested in better targeted ads?
I haven’t actually updated my relationship status, and I get a lot of enjoyment from the goofy dating adverts that are sent to single women of a certain age.
(Hmm… I also got one from a dating psychic promising to get my ex back in a certain number of days, but I can’t seem to find that one.)
I’ve been avoiding the bridal bombardment that’s sure to come when I update my relationship status to engaged (Whoa, I am getting married!). Who wouldn’t take wacky adverts over the pre-wedding nerves I seem to get whenever I see puffy white dresses? And now, being engaged will also set up a relationship page, where anyone on Facebook (who is really, really desperately bored, and behind some kind of of reverse productivity firewall where they can only see Facebook, not the rest of the internet… ) could see a generated list of what my FB page has in common with my fiance’s. Harold’s pretty serious about his privacy and has been known to call shopper loyalty cards “some kind of Orwellian bullshit”. I wonder if I could Like that too.