In its non-stop quest for personal data, Facebook is rolling out a rather ingenious feature that could help it gather even more info about you. In addition to constantly harassing users to fill in personal data on their profile pages, Facebook will now offer an “ask” button that will appear on a user’s page in the top left About box, for those cases where personal details aren’t filled in. The new button will give people’s Facebook friends a chance to actually ask them for more details.
“Used to be, if users didn’t disclose personal details like relationship status, hometown, current job, or high school, those blanks simply wouldn’t appear in the prominent “about” box,” Ars Technica writes. “Now, Facebook loudly advertises users’ selective silence by way of the “ask” button. For example, if I click ‘ask’ on a friend’s “career” section, I’m shown a prompt that says “Let so-and-so know why you’re asking for his/her work info,” along with an optional text blank.”
Facebook users who receive questions can choose to answer them or not, but at least Facebook lets them answer the question privately instead of actually listing the answer on their profiles. However, it’s not clear what happens with the information Facebook receives. An earlier report revealed that Facebook logs everything users type while on Facebook, even messages and status updates that are typed but not published by the user.
Facebook told the publication that the ask feature has been rolling out since January, although the feature was previously buried in the user’s profile, and it has only now been moved to a more prominent position. But the company did not elaborate on why Facebook added the ask button or how it will handle private answers.