It’s the end of an era for Facebook: starting on December 1, the “interested in” section from users’ profiles will be eliminated. The website was initially created as a method for bored college bros to rank the relative hotness of their friends. The change signals the end of the social media giant’s unofficial second function in the area of, if not anonymously falling in love with your cousin’s attractive friend whom you met at a party that one time, then at least sexting with them (you know the one).
Not all profile information is being eliminated, though. In order to make Facebook simpler to use and navigate, a few profile fields—Interested In, Religious Views, Political Views, and Address—are being eliminated, according to a statement from Meta spokesperson Emil Vazquez.
Informing anyone who have filled out these forms that they will be erased, he said, “We’re sending alerts to people who have these fields filled out.” Anyone’s capacity to post personal information about themselves elsewhere on Facebook is unaffected by this change.
The action is being taken as Facebook and its parent company, Meta, work to streamline operations in a variety of ways. The corporation just announced an unprecedented 11,000 layoffs, or over 13 percent of the company’s staff, even as it forecasts modest earnings for the following fiscal quarter.
It may therefore seem odd that Meta has decided to scrap some of the most distinctive selling aspects of its most enduring platform at this time. Because most other social media sites just provide a line or two of information about their users in their bios, very few, if any, social media sites do so. However, there are a few situations why it makes sense to omit such information.
First of all, it’s not 2006 anymore. We don’t spend hours crafting the ideal version of our inner selves for our MySpace sites or, for that matter, Facebook accounts. We are now more likely to enter false or no information than honest responses due to years of privacy intrusions on a scale that few of us could have ever imagined, let alone expected.
And with good reason: In 2019, it was discovered that Facebook has been enabling marketers to discriminate against specific individuals based on the details provided in their profiles, such as race and sexual orientation. The use of proxies by advertisers to access users’ browser histories, physical locations, and to gather information such as an interest in “Jewish festivals” rather than a religion defined as Jewish was stopped when Facebook removed these sensitive ad targeting categories.
The removal of these personal informational tidbits from user profiles may represent a sea change for the company after nearly two decades of operation, but it also makes business sense: these snippets are no longer viewed as cute little disclosures for your friends, but rather as ways for advertisers to obtain ever-more-personal information to use against us without our knowledge.
Let’s face it: the easiest way to prevent advertisers from using this information is to completely remove it from Facebook if it wants to remain relevant in a time when its users are more aware than ever of how their information is utilized.