Facebook quietly announced it will remove several categories of information from user profiles, including religious views, political views, addresses and the “Interested in” field, which indicates sexual preference. The change goes into effect on December 1, Gizmodo reported.
“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,” said Emil Vazquez, a Meta spokesperson. “We’re sending notifications to people who have these fields filled out, letting them know these fields will be removed. This change doesn’t effect anyone’s ability to share this information about themselves elsewhere on Facebook.”
According to Gizmodo, the shift reflects Meta’s broader public relations efforts. As a whole, the tech industry wants the public to differentiate between “sensitive” data and what you might call “regular” data. Meta will tell you that Instagram and Facebook don’t use sensitive data for advertising, for example, though that change only came after researchers uncovered serious problems.
Gizmodo also reported: Facebook earned a poor reputation, not just for causing societal problems but because it’s just not cool anymore. Users have been leaving the platform in droves, and even Instagram, Facebook’s younger and slightly hipper sibling, has seen its cache decline.
The company is in dire financial straits as a result, Gizmodo reported. It laid off 11,000 employees just last week. CEO Mark Zuckerberg shifted the entire future of the company, moving away from social media and towards a moonshot goal of building a mixture of virtual and augmented reality he calls “the metaverse”. But in the meantime, Facebook and Instagram are still Meta’s only source of income.
TechCrunch reported that Facebook’s change was first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who tweeted a screenshot of the notice being sent to users who have these fields filled out. The notice indicates that users’ other information will remain on their profiles along with the rest of their contact and basic information.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook’s decision to get rid of these specific profile fields is part of its efforts to streamline its platform, which currently consists of several features that are somewhat outdated.
It’s worth noting that the information fields that Facebook is choosing to remove are ones that other major social networks don’t offer. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have simple bios that let users share a little bit about themselves without going into specific details, such as political or religious views.
Engadget reported that other details that you provide Facebook, such as your contact information and relationship status, will persist. You can download a copy of your Facebook data before December 1st if you’re determined to preserve it, and you still have control over who can see the remaining profile content.
I’m seeing what might be a pattern. Facebook is removing information from the profile’s of its users, making it harder for users to have an easy way to self-identify. Twitter is losing employees by the hundreds, which I assume would make it harder for the company to implement new features or enforce its terms of service. Could this be the end of social media as we know it?