Facebook has finally decided that not everyone’s biography justifies more than a perfunctory single line.
After over a decade of asking people’s political viewpoint, religion and sexual orientation to display on their profiles like nametags at the world’s most intrusive networking event, the social networking site is retiring the option, starting December 1.
“As part of our efforts to make Facebook easier to navigate and use, we’re removing a handful of profile fields: Interested In, Religious Views, Political Views, and Address,” a spokesperson for Meta said, somewhat confusingly given most people’s objection to Facebook is hardly its steep learning curve.
“We’re sending notifications to people who have these fields filled out, letting them know these fields will be removed,” the statement added.
This notification apparently allows those affected to download the information before it vanishes. Just in case they’re so easily influenced by election leaflets that they find themselves forgetting their political instincts.
This may seem like Facebook jumping on the internet privacy bandwagon 12 years after founder Mark Zuckerberg declared privacy no longer a “social norm”. But actually this doesn’t do much for that, given these fields were always optional and only very confused privacy obsessives would have filled them out anyway.
Nor is it to stop people starting arguments over politics and religion. If you’re determined to be that Facebook oddball, there’s nothing stopping you doing it on your wall or in public groups.
More likely is that this is something that nobody would miss and an easy feature to remove for streamlining purposes. Sensible given the massive job cuts have already killed off Portal and the company’s long-rumoured smartwatch ambitions.
It also felt a bit dated — a throwback to the narcissistic days of MySpace and Bebo when profiles had to rival a Who’s Who entry for unnecessary biographical detail, without the notoriety to justify it. The fashion these days on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram is for short, sharp bios without extraneous info to pad them out.
Not that this is going to make Facebook any more popular with the Gen Z’ers who view the site as a sort of retirement home for millennials. But maybe it’ll look a little less decrepit all the same. MySpace Tom must be terrified.