On occasion, I've found myself in a neck of the woods I'm unfamiliar with, looking for a restaurant suggestion from friends instead of strangers on Yelp. In cases like those, I've taken to Facebook, to post a status update querying, "Know any great taco joints in Williamsburg?" or "Where should we go for drinks in San Fran?" Apparently, Facebook has caught on to lots of people using their statuses this way, and now, they're launching a new marketing gimmick feature called, "Questions."
The new feature has been in beta-testing since July, but is only just now rolling out to all Facebook users will show up at the top of your News Feed and Profile pages as a share option, along with status updates, photos, links and videos.
According to Facebook's Adrian Graham, the impetus for rolling out this new feature went a little something like this:
We noticed that people were frequently asking for opinions...or hoping to learn about their friends ('what was your favorite movie as a kid, something you watched over and over?'). For most of these questions, experts weren't going to be the best source for advice. The answers to these questions are meaningful or interesting because you know your friends and your friends know you.
Fair enough. But then, why oh why did they decide to make this a feature that is only PUBLIC? In other words, when you post a question, it isn't shown exclusively to your friends. Nope, it goes out to the entire Facebook community. Sure, Facebook will let you know what your friends think before they'll give you strangers' answers, but it seems suspiciously familiar to Yahoo! Answers ...
You know, that strange site that comes up sometimes in Google's search results. Like when you type in "relationships" and you get a bunch of related hits, some of which are from Yahoo! Answers ... and most of those are like 13-year-olds asking complete strangers on the web about their personal lives, e.g. "Is my girlfriend cheating on me?" "What does sex feel like?" "Can I get an STD from a beach towel?" (No, that last one's just a joke.)
Are we that clueless that we need to put out questions about our private lives to hordes of strangers online? I guess there are some practical uses for Questions, like if you're a reporter (ahem) and you need to poll friends on, say, the quirky customs of their religion that makes them think they're more or less likely to gain weight.
But for the average Jane or Joe, I'm not quite seeing how this is necessary/helpful. It just looks like another way to clue marketers into what you're interested in/curious about. Pretty soon Zuck will be selling ad space to marketers to ask YOU questions about products you like. Helloooo... It's another way for Facebook to rake in the dough. Just sayin'.
As for me, I think I'll likely stick to addressing ONLY my friends by posting future Qs in a status update. If you value your privacy or have a fear of getting friend requests from strange weirdos or targeted ads from marketers who somehow know what's going on in your brain, you may want to do the same.
Would you use Facebook "Questions"?
Image via Bram Van Damme/Flickr