Is Facebook stirring up trouble?

A friend of mine recently decided to tidy up her Facebook profile information. She got to the relationships section and thought to herself, “you know what? this is nobody’s business. I don’t want to broadcast this to everyone.” She saw a message there that said “Leave status option blank to hide from profile.” Perfect, that’s exactly what she was looking to do. Blank it is. Done.

Relationship status selection screenshot

However, the next day, she started getting a flood of phone calls from family members and close friends. “Woah, I just saw it on Facebook. You never told me you were seeing someone! Who is he???”. The source of this confusion? An item in her Facebook news feed that was broadcast to all her friends. It looked like this:

Facebook Heart Jane Doe is no longer listed as “Single”

This is extremely misleading and it can cause quite a bit of trouble. My first thought was that this is clearly a bug. A classic oversight in a complex set of interactions.

But is it?

Another friend that I discussed this with said, “dude, you’re being naive. Facebook does that stuff on purpose. They’re trying to stir up trouble. To get people talking. ”

That blew my mind a little bit. Am I naive? Are the product people are Facebook really so diabolical? My hunch is that they’re just young, busy and fallible. But, I could be wrong. It definitely got me thinking.

Maybe I need to be a bit more diabolical myself…

One Response to “Is Facebook stirring up trouble?”

  1. FatSean Says:

    Yeah, you’re naive. How do you think they pay for all that bandwidth processing and storage? They sell your personal info. The more info and interactions they can generate (by priming the pump with stuff like this) the more money they can make.

    Companies are desperate now, with the recession, to push more product.