News Column

In Latest Intrusion, Facebook Creates Relationship Profile

Nov 14, 2012

Jessica Van Sack

Facebook.com/us

The nicest thing you can do for your spouse or significant other right now is to dump them. On Facebook.

The latest sputtering strategy from the post-IPO social network is to treat couples like people. Now not only do users have a profile page, so does their relationship. Want to see what yours looks like? Go to Facebook.com/us. No, you cannot delete the profile for your relationship. There's no opt-out provision. It's there whether you want it or not. An automatic catalog of all your interactions with your plus-one -- wall posts, mutual friends and even mutual likes.

The issue is not that Facebook has made these relationship pages possible, it's that they're involuntary, marking the latest intrusion by a network that is increasingly hostile toward personal boundaries. Although users are allegedly able to edit these profiles, I found it impossible to change the cover photo of my husband and me arbitrarily chosen for the relationship page.

Let's set aside for a second the "ick" factor. I dislike cheesiness and detest Valentine's Day. I find these pages equally icky, but such things are a matter of personal taste.

But there's a bigger issue. An estimated 20 percent of Facebook users are between the ages of 13 and 18. Is there any worse message to send to teens than one that says their crushes are so important that we must curate the details online? Now every LOL and OMG and exhibitionist photo shared between hormonal flights of fancy will be showcased to the public (unless by some chance they happen to employ tight privacy settings). It's yet another outlet for teen jealousy, bullying and distractions. Becoming "Facebook official" just got even more complicated.

That's not to say that oversharing is limited to teens. I have an old friend whose on-again, off-again relationship status with his baby momma would seem theatrical to Kim Kardashian. What's more, each time their relationship status changes, people feel the need to offer their pearls of wisdom. And that often will prompt responses, ranging from angry to faux relief, from the principals involved. Now, their kid can one day grow up to view this tawdry back-and-forth immortalized on the Web. Thanks, Facebook.



Source: (c)2012 the Boston Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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