Facebook puts a new spin on Internet flirtation with relationship ‘Ask’ button

This screenshot made on Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, shows the relationship status options in a Facebook profile. Facebook has added "In a civil union" and "In a domestic partnership" to the Relationship Status section. (AP Photo/Facebook)

Jasmine Song, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON — Facebook users might have noticed a new feature that allows them to inquire about people’s relationship statuses, or the lack thereof.

Facebook now has an “ask” button, which appears in the “about” section of profile pages.

It enables users to ask their friends or acquaintances about information not already posted on their profiles.

The feature seems to be particularly useful when it comes to users’ undisclosed relationship statuses.

Users who click “ask” are prompted to send a short message to the recipient, who will then see a relationship status request and the note from their friend.

Recipients are given the option to either ignore the request or choose a relationship status, such as “single,” “widowed,” “married” or “It’s Complicated,” before replying privately to their friend or posting their relationship status to the public.

The new feature introduces a way for Facebook members to network while enjoying some of the perks associated with online dating.

Marketers have also found the feature to be effective for targeting products to certain demographics. By answering an “ask” request, users send companies information about themselves.

The “ask” button first appeared a few months ago on the site’s mobile and desktop platforms, but is now accessible to all users.

Facebook members can also “ask” friends for other unlisted information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, current city, hometown and place of employment.

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