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Facebook peer pressures your data out of you with new "ask" feature

Facebook has spent the last ten years on a never-ending quest for our personal data, which it then sells to advertisers. However, until now the process of collecting it has been a largely automated process, with little reminders popping up that your profile is "incomplete".

Have you told Facebook what your relationship status is? Your past jobs? What about your favourite movies, or books? Who are your favourite athletes? Come on, what are you waiting for?

Now, Facebook is moving some of the burden of sending users these reminders to our very own Facebook friends. This week, Facebook has rolled out a new way to get to the heart of its users' lives: one that relies heavily on peer pressure.

Now when you see that a user hasn't filled out a certain part of their "about" section, you can"ask" them to do so. These "ask" buttons also appear when clicking on a user's profile on mobile devices.

That's not all, either. In the past, if a user didn't fill out one of the boxes containing relationship status, past jobs or favourite movies, Facebook would simply decline to show the box. Now it displays the blank, empty box, allowing your friends to wonder exactly why you haven't filled it out. What do you have to hide?


The new "ask" button invites your own Facebook friends to peer pressure you into sharing data. For example, if I click "ask" on a friend's "favourite athletes" section, I'm shown a prompt that says "Let so-and-so know why you're asking for his/her info," along with an optional text blank. Then that user receives a request for info, and has the option to reply privately or publicly.

Facebook has been mute so far on whether the responses are mined for advertising data, although since even the text you type and then delete in the message function is handed over to marketeers, I think we can all pretty much guess the answer.

Facebook has so far not offered any comment on the controversial new feature.