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Facebook Privacy and Your Relationship Status

3 June 2010 10 Comments by Heather Guith

Facebook Privacy and Your Relationship StatusRemember when not every single thing you put on Facebook was shown to all of your friends? Remember when you could update your profile and your friends had to work to figure out what you changed because Facebook didn’t let them know that your favorite color is now purple and that you ‘like’ the page “I Hate Getting Texts That Only Say ‘K?’” Now, with any and every change you make showing up in everyone’s mini-feed, and with anyone able to obtain a Facebook account, it’s hard to keep anything private anymore.

One of the things that’s hardest to keep a secret on Facebook (or in life in general, really) is one’s relationship status. Not only is it listed right away on your profile, but it’s one of the things people are nosiest about. Even with the new privacy changes Facebook is making, choosing to share your status with ‘just friends’ still doesn’t narrow down the crop much. If your relationship status changes at all, expect to get plenty of comments from friends (many people have 500 ‘friends’ or more), and know that the guy you met at the bar this weekend probably friended you mostly to see if you had a boyfriend you forgot to mention.

However, it’s not just friends and acquaintances who are getting data from your profile. Outside vendors also glean information from the site and uncover which ads to throw on your sidebar based on your likes, your favorite music, and – you guessed it – your relationship status. Single? Expect to see plenty of online dating or matchmaking ads right below your events and birthdays for the week. In a relationship? Plenty of people will tell you they’ve seen engagement ring advertisements and promotions for cookware and food alongside their friends’ party pictures. Whether you’re completely unattached or married, Facebook probably has an ad targeted at you based on what you say about your relationship or lack thereof. Your status is no longer there just to let friends and would-be significant others know if you’re on the market or not. Now it’s used to make money for Zuckerberg and company.

When it comes down to it though, Facebook is on the Internet, and whatever you put there – save secure passwords and financial information (hopefully) – is fair game. Yes, Facebook started as a social networking site meant to connect you to your friends at school. But now – as you should well know unless you’ve been living under a rock – Facebook is accessible to everyone and is being used as a business tool in many capacities. This includes using your relationship status to target you for advertisements, which some are definitely not OK with.

What do you think? Does it bother you when Facebook suggests you join Zoosk.com or buy kitchen utensils? Are you hesitant about changing your relationship status for fear that everyone will speculate and comment on the recent news? Does the recent news that Facebook was never intended to be super-private make you think twice about saying anything about your dating life? Or have you managed to avoid these issues completely by taking down your relationship status altogether?

Share your comments below.


  • Deborah Pearson said:

    I downloaded an ad blocker which so far has managed to get rid of ads for me including those on facebook. Probably everyone should be downloading one of these: if one does get through I just ignore it, you don’t have to respond to any of the ads. Ignoring them is probably the best strategy.


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