If you’ve been eyeing someone on Facebook whose profile doesn’t list a relationship status, the company is making it easier (or possibly more awkward) to find out if he or she’s single.
Facebook has rolled out a new “ask” feature for those profile pages that don’t list relationship statuses. The owner of the page doesn’t see the button — only the person who is checking out the page.
By clicking “ask,” you must send the user a message related to the status (such as “want to grab a drink sometime?”), as well as a request to list a status as single, engaged, married or in a civil union. Note: users must be friends with the person in order for the “ask” button to appear.
The owner of the Facebook page then receives a request to list select a status that only the sender can see. This means your status can remain private but visible to only those who “ask” for that information, if you so wish to divulge it.
It’s also possible to update your entire network with this information too, but Facebook is probably guessing — correctly — that you’d simply list your status already if you wanted everyone to know.
The feature introduces a new way to use Facebook as a way to find dates. With the continuing success of online dating sites, and Facebook’s massive user base, the only surprise here is that the feature wasn’t introduced sooner.
A user’s relationship status can also be of use to marketers that target products or services to certain demographics. By answering an “ask” request, a Facebook member is telling the site their status (even if it’s not visible to the public) and in turn, giving the company that personal data.
Pretty clear to me why Facebook added this Relationship Status question feature. VERY useful thing for marketers to know.
— Stephanie Haberman (@StephLauren) May 19, 2014
It’s also possible to “ask” for other unlisted information too, such as phone numbers, email addresses, current city, hometown and place of employment. That part of the “ask” feature started popping up on mobile and desktop versions of the site a few months ago, but the relationship status component is new.