The morning began with my typical browsing routine: email, top-reads RSS news feed, a brief scan of Twitter, then Facebook. I found friends wrapping up at SXSW, some chatter about Kony, pictures of new babies, and then I noticed something out of the ordinary in the right hand column. (See above.)
It’s not the first time I’ve gotten an engagement ring advertisement. But what’s this? Facebook is directly asking me to comment on the nature of my relationship to Nick Smith? That’s something new. And weird.
Because, as it turns out, Nick Smith and I are engaged.
We contacted Facebook to ask them about what might have happened. A spokesman got back to us right away. First, the placement of the ad and the question was an accident. That is to say, Facebook wanted to show me the ad and it wanted to ask me the question, but the fact that they showed up at the same time was coincidental. Second, I was probably targeted for an engagement ring ad because of some things I posted about our wedding or on the basis that I’m a woman of marrying age. Third, Facebook’s spokesman said that my answer to the question about Nick was just for Facebook’s social graph, not for advertisers. […]
Since our engagement, there have been enough mentions of “engagement” and “wedding” in mine and my friends’ comments littered throughout my profile to suggest to Facebook’s keyword crawlers to deduce that we’ve got something big planned. The fact that he’s tagged in my cover photo, we have numerous albums taken in remote locations where we’re the only two people tagged, and that we both currently live in Chongqing, China, all should make it obvious to Facebook’s relationship-weighing algorithms that we’re pretty important to each other. […]
So why does Facebook care to know more about the nature of my relationship to Nick? The short answer is that Facebook wants to know as much as it can about my relationships, even though Facebook’s current policy is not use information from user questions like this one for advertising.
Read more. [Screenshot: Sara Marie Watson]