Facebook has made another move which is guaranteed to irk privacy activists, with the social network extending its new "ask" feature to cover a user's relationship status. In short, you'll have a button to click to prod a friend to divulge said information.
The ask feature – which pertains to personal details a user hasn't filled in when it comes to their "About" section – has already rolled out, but previously the ask button hadn't been available for relationships.
Extending the functionality to the relationship status is an obvious move to help Facebook on the dating site front – and also it will be yet more data which will potentially be filled in by users after they've been prodded and asked. Perhaps again and again.
And that's more data Facebook can peddle to advertisers.
Whether someone is single or married is a pretty key question where targeting adverts are concerned, of course (gifts for him/her, for example).
Some sources seem to think this feature is in testing and still being rolled out right now, but others (such as Mashable) are saying it has been rolled out.
On the plus side – theoretically anyway – it's now easier to find out if a friend who hasn't clarified his or her relationship status is involved, or single (you have to be a friend to ask, incidentally, so there won't be any spamming from dodgy random blokes and so forth). Or, and it's just a thought, rather than clicking on some creepy ask button, you could actually, you know, just chat with said person and perhaps steer things round until you naturally learn of their relationship status when it crops up in conversation.
But what data would Facebook get out of that?
Still, doubtless there are folks out there who will use this feature, and probably a bit of un-friending that might go along with it as a result.