Social network Facebook has given profile prowlers a little more ammunition to spy on their friends, as it has rolled out an ‘Ask’ button on many of its pages. The button will appear in the ‘About’ box on a profile, and if any information is hidden, a user can click it and simply ask the profile holder to dish up the info.

On the receiver’s end, they will be notified that a specific person has requested the information, after which they can choose to supply it to them – or not. But the ‘Ask’ button will only appear if the profile’s security and privacy settings aren’t set to strict, and can be disengaged by making relationship statuses and other visible to ‘only me’.

It appears as though the button has been in a testing phase for some time, as users on Facebook’s FAQ section raised concerns about two months ago. While it wasn’t available to the masses then, it seems that it has now been implemented across the board.

Not only does it provide snoopers with an easier (albeit less covert) way of gleaning information, it also provides Facebook with valuable data that it previously didn’t have.

“A user’s relationship status can also be of use to marketers that target products or services to certain demographics. By answering an “ask” request, a Facebook member is telling the site their status (even if it’s not visible to the public) and in turn, giving the company that personal data.

It’s also possible to “ask” for other unlisted information too, such as phone numbers, email addresses, current city, hometown and place of employment. That part of the “ask” feature started popping up on mobile and desktop versions of the site a few months ago, but the relationship status component is new,” Mashable wrote.

[Source: Mashable, image: file]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.