Facebook tests tools to help mend your broken heart

Facebook wants to make it easier for people to untag posts with a former lover. (Dado Ruvic, Reuters)

Facebook wants to make it easier for people to untag posts with a former lover. (Dado Ruvic, Reuters)


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a newly single person, in possession of a broken heart, must be in want of social media updates about their recent ex.

But it’s not good for us. We all know that sobbing into a giant mug while scrolling through an album of the couple’s holiday you took isn’t conducive to getting over a person.

Enter Mark Zuckerberg, a hand on your shoulder, here to help you out of your blue-tinged nostalgia.

Facebook is testing tools that hide posts and updates and make it easier to untag posts with an ex, without the need for the savage steps of un-friending or blocking. When a user changes their relationship status to indicate a romance is over, they will now be given the option to try the new tools.
A post on Facebook’s newsroom blog explains a former partner’s posts will be hidden in newsfeed and their name not automatically suggested for tagging.

On the flipside, users worried about still attached exes will also be able to limit the information an ex sees about them – including photos, videos and status updates.

The new tools, packaged as “take a break”, are being tested on mobile phones in the United States, with a potential wider rollout based on feedback. The tools can be accessed through the help centre, and presumably are reversible (though the blog post does not elaborate).

Facebook already offers tools to limit what other individuals can view (including tailoring viewing permissions for individual posts and photographs) but it seems the new measures aim to be more discreet.

Facebook product manager, Kelly Winters, writes that the trial tools are “part of our ongoing effort to develop resources for people who may be going through difficult moments in their lives. We hope these tools will help people end relationships on Facebook with greater ease, comfort and sense of control.”

The problem, of course, is the human mind is mightier than machines, and our hearts mightier than our minds. Sure, I could block, unfriend, unfollow, avoid or use Facebook’s new tools to help me not look at my colleague Alex Hern’s social media profiles – but that won’t stop me, drunk at 4am, from manually undoing all of the above and declaring my love for him. The fact that there are apps that will block us dialling our exes’ numbers, without us having to delete the numbers altogether from our phones, doesn’t stop us from deleting the app instead.

What a crushed heart really needs is willpower and a new love interest. And Zuckerberg can’t help you there. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

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