- Facebook has been asking users to tell it what they “usually sleep with.”
- It wasn’t clear to users if the bizarrely intrusive question is discussing sexual preferences or more family-friendly bedtime habits.
- It’s part of a new feature that prompts users to share stories about their lives and answer hypothetical questions.
Facebook has been asking some of its users an unusual – and intrusive – question: Who or what are you sleeping with?
The social network is increasingly prompting users to answer questions and finish sentences describing their lives via its new “Did You Know?” feature. Most of these are fairly innocuous queries or fun hypotheticals – “When I don’t like a gift, I…” for example, or “If I could choose to be teleported anywhere or read people’s minds, I’d rather…”
But it’s also asking some of its members to complete a rather more intimate sentence that has left many users baffled: “I usually sleep with…”
After Business Insider published a story on the unusual pop-up, a Facebook spokesperson said that this was supposed to be inoccous and family-friendly question about what people’s sleeping habits are. Do they tuck in at night with a teddy bear, for example, or a hot water bottle, or a comforter?
But given the vague wording, there’s a different way to interpret the prompt – that Facebook is asking users about their sexual partners and sexual preferences – and it wasn’t clear to users which is the right one.
British parliamentary researcher Reshima Sharma is one of the people who saw the pop-up. (Full disclosure, she’s a friend of the author’s.) Her first impression was that Facebook was asking her about her sexual partners, she said.
“I guess you can read it two ways maybe,” she told Business Insider in a message. “But it’s difficult to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt when its ‘did you know’ feature also asks you to publish weirdly personal questions like ‘the last time I went through a tough time was…’ and ‘if I could change one thing about my significant other it would be…'”
— Reshima Sharma (@reshimmerschama) January 24, 2018
She wasn’t the only one to receive the message and respond with revulsion.
— Subhakeerthana (@bhakisundar) January 7, 2018
In an emailed statement, Facebook spokeserson Daniel Harrison said the company has now removed the question due to the mix-up.
“We learned one of the questions in the ‘Did You Know’ feature was causing confusion among some people who saw it. We imagined someone might tell their friends about sleeping with their favourite stuffed giraffe, but we’ve removed the question after our community provided feedback that it was too personal,” he said.
Facebook launched the “Did You Know” feature relatively recently, in December 2017, as a way to get people to volunteer more info about themselves and share off-beat facts and details about their lives.
The social network is reportedly battling a decline in people sharing statuses and updates about their lives, and has come under intense scrutiny over its impact on society in recent months. It’s now tweaking its algorithm to show users more content from their friends, in what seems to be an attempt to encourage them to share more – and the “Did You Know” prompts are a novel way to try and encourage this.
Some of these efforts, however, could do with being seeming little less invasive.