Facebook Ask: Fun New Feature, Or Tool For Harassment?

Facebook has launched a new feature that enables users to personally request unpublished information like relationship status.

The new feature, called Ask, makes it possible for Facebook users to request certain information about friends that is not currently public on the site, including details like home town and job, but also relationship status - adding an increased dating aspect to the social network.

The feature cannot be turned off, and applies to every aspect of a friend's profile that is not already public. A new Ask button appears next to any sections that haven't been filled in. Clicking the button sends a request.

Facebook says that a level of privacy remains however, as users have the choice as to who they share the requested information with.

A Facebook spokesman said:

"This feature provides an easy way for friends to ask you for information that's not already on your profile. For example, a friend could ask where you work or for your home town. If you choose to answer, this information is then added to your profile. By default, only you and your friend can see it, and you also have the option of sharing it with others, too."

Facebook also points out that you can ignore these requests, and also highlighted that only friends can request this information - so there is no chance of unknown users contacting you in this way.

The California-based social network appears to be on something an reshuffle push at the moment, with reports suggesting the site is preparing a photo app to take on Snapchat; the popular self-destructing photo-sharing app where users send images that appear for a set time limit before disappearing.

The company has already made some major acquisitions this year, purchasing instant messaging service WhatsApp as well as virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus - both in multibillion-dollar deals.