SI Social: Facebook Announces Couples Pages, World Retches Audibly

November 14th, 2012 by Colette Bennett

In the modern world, there’s tremendous emphasis on finding a romantic partner. As if we didn’t get enough pressure from literature about star-crossed lovers, movies about pairing up, and images splayed across glossy magazine pages depicting blissful partners holding hands and gazing into the sunset, now Facebook has decided to join the bandwagon with a new addition. It’s called Profiles for Couples (cutely spelled “profiles4couples” in the URL), and it gives you an excellent opportunity to show the world that you have indeed achieved putting off old maiddom for the time being.

Scorn aside, the general reaction to this new addition has caused some negativity. CNN documented some of the more extreme reactions in a recent post. Profiles for Couples is actually not anything wildly innovative: Facebook Friendship Pages work in a similar fashion and have been around for years. If you go to any friend’s page, click the gear icon next to “message,” and choose “See Friendship,” you’ll see a page that shows the way you and said friend have interacted over time, including when you became friends on Facebook, posts, events you both attended, and more.

An update like this tends to draw bitterness out of some and happiness from others, and funny enough, I think users’ reactions to it are much more significant than Facebook’s decision to make the change itself. Much like Facebook Friendship Pages, Profiles for Couples aren’t in your face — you have to navigate your way to them. Facebook is taking information you provide and assembling it to show a timeline, sure, and some people seem pissed about that. But it’s information you provide: if you don’t want it to exist, you have the option of not listing your relationship status on the site.

“You cannot deactivate the pages, but you can control what you share on Facebook using the privacy settings for each post,” Facebook’s Jessie Baker told CNN. “The friendship page respects the privacy setting of each post. This means the person viewing the friendship page may see each post elsewhere on Facebook, like on either friend’s timeline or in news feed. You can curate your friendship page by hiding stories you do not want to appear.”

For private types who don’t like their love lives chronicled across Facebook, these changes may draw some ire. Personally, the idea of setting up a page like this in place of a personal one does bother me, and because personal individuality is important whether you are married or not. Still, for those who opt to immerse their online identity in coupledom, it’s certainly their prerogative. On the other hand, the comedic value could be classic. Rather than sites like Lamebook having to keep an eye out for couples catfighting over the social network, they can now just surf over the the couples page and screencap the whole thing.

Nothing gets the honeys' hearts thumping like Senor Cardgage.

While these couples pages seem fundamentally gag-worthy, they can provide a nice repository of the exchanges between you and your sweetie — viewing those memories is a great way to reconnect with your past (and that one Strong Bad cartoon you posted on their wall in 2007). But why not just leave that to the domain of “view friendship” pages? What makes romantic coupledom so important that it has to get its own specialized feature that already existed in the Facebook UI? The answer, of course, is pleasing the crowd: ever since the disastrous IPO, the ‘book has been frantically trying to connect with users on every level possible. Time will tell if their efforts are successful in retaining the goodwill of its 800 million strong user base.

Are you offended by the idea of couples pages, or indifferent?