It’s an inside half-truth that many friends of Mark Zuckerberg have told me over the years: Facebook knows when a relationship is about to end. My response was to always ask more questions as it actually sounded like a legitimate possibility. In David Kirkpatrick’s soon to be released book, “The Facebook Effect“, Kirkpatrick confirms that relationship patterns were something that Mark Zuckerberg often toyed with.
In the book, Kirkpatrick writes:
As the service’s engineers built more and more tools that could uncover such insights, Zuckerberg sometimes amused himself by conducting experiments. For instance, he concluded that by examining friend relationships and communications patterns he could determine with about 33 percent accuracy who a user was going to be in a relationship with a week from now. To deduce this he studied who was looking which profiles, who your friends were friends with, and who was newly single, among other indicators.
Are you busy chatting with another girl instead of your girlfriend? Are you being tagged in a lot of photos with the same person? Facebook has a lot of information about who you are viewing regularly (or lusting over) as well as what your communication patterns are. While the company is not actively charting most users’ communication patterns for determining the future of your relationship, they are actively monitoring your behavior on the site to determine what should be displayed in the feed.
Could you imagine using the site and then receiving a notification that the system has automatically determined that your relationship could be on thin ice? While it may provide useful to know, it would be extremely creepy to find out. For now, I wouldn’t expect to see any “relationship strength tool” integrated into the site, but it’s definitely interesting to know that it’s potentially something Facebook could project.
Would you want to know how strong your relationship is based on your own Facebook behavior? Don’t you probably already know how strong it is without Facebook telling you?