A new sidebar prompt picked up by the AllFacebook blog raises questions about how Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) may change its news feed and the way that your information is shared with people you add as ‘Friends.’
The innocuous prompt simply asks, “How well do you know this person?” naming one of your Facebook friends and giving you a range of options. For people who spend a lot of time organizing their contacts, this isn’t anything new. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has given users the ability to sort ‘friends’ into lists, each with its own set of permissions and privacy settings. But the lists never really took off because most people either didn’t know about them, didn’t care about them, or found them to be something of a hassle.
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Facebook improving the news feed
This new drive for information hasn’t been explained, but Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) usually says that it uses this information to improve the news feed, which has become the site’s central feature since it was introduced a few years ago. Getting a better handle on whose information users care about is vital to Facebook, since it is one of the main reasons people visit the site habitually.
Besides, we already know that changes are on the way. Dante D’Orazio at the Verge reported that we can expect to see 15 second ads in our news feeds. Since there is usually some amount of pushback each time the company makes a noticeable change, it might simply be looking to overhaul its news feed all at once, instead of making multiple changes throughout the year.
Collecting more data for advertisements
Of course, sharing data with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is always a double-edged sword, and there is every reason to assume that detailing the level of your personal relationships will be used to target you with ads. As just one example, Facebook already notifies you when one of your friends has a birthday. If the site knows that person is one of your closest friends, is it that unreasonable to think it might prompt you to buy a birthday present, and then link you to gifts your friend might like?
Facebook has hit a rough patch with investors who worry about the company’s ability to deliver growth through online ads, and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) could be trying to address those concerns head on by leveraging its biggest strengths, user data and page views, to spur growth in advertising revenue.