Breaking up with your significant other sucks and now may be even harder to swallow if you’re Facebook friends with your former flame. In the pre-social media age, one might make a clean break and not have to worry about awkward run-ins with the ex. Facebook (finally!) has a solution for the awkward situation that arises on its platform when a relationship ends. The new feature, “Take a break,” was rolled out this week as a prescription for heartbroken Facebook users in the U.S.
The new feature activates when mobile users change their relationship status. The relationship status change triggers a series of “changes that might be helpful” adding a helpful tidbit that they won’t notify the ex of these changes. Facebook prompts users to fine-tune privacy and security protocol pertaining to the ex-partner. The first change is “see less of (ex),” where users can opt to continue seeing posts, name/profile picture in their newsfeed and “other places as well.” If a user isn’t so keen on seeing posts from their ex, they can decide to limit what they see, which prevents their posts from appearing in the newsfeed and prevents prompts to message or tag them in pictures.
The second change Facebook suggests is to “limit what (ex) can see” which prompts users to make changes pertaining to what their ex-partner can see. Users can either “keep current privacy settings” or “hide posts from (ex).” One important note: the ability to hide posts from their ex is a bit misleading. Although their ex won’t see their posts in the newsfeed, they will still be able to see posts in which they are tagged, posts that are shared publicly, or posts that are shared on a mutual friend’s timeline. It also limits the ex from seeing posts that you’re tagged in.
In the third change that Facebook suggests, it prompts users to limit past posts. Users can choose to “keep all posts as they are,” “edit individual posts,” or “edit all my posts and posts that I’m tagged in.” If a user chooses to edit individual posts, they can “untag” or change the privacy of each post one-by-one, whereas the “edit all” option will do all of the cleaning up in one sweep.
Why not simply block or just “unfriend” the ex? Facebook product manager, Kelly Winters, explained in a blog post that many users have questioned what other options were available (aside from blocking or “unfriending”) upon ending a relationship. Winters also mentions that all of these changes are part of an “ongoing effort to develop resources for people who may be going through difficult moments in their lives.”
Some of the other changes Facebook has made recently to add resources for people in difficult (or life-threatening) situations include an expanded “safety check” feature. The feature was inspired by the 2011 disaster in Japan, finally rolled out to users last year and was used during earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Prior to the terror attacks in Paris, the feature was not used in any other capacity than for natural disasters. Facebook Vice President of Growth, Alex Schultz, discussed the enhanced capabilities of the “safety check” and how it would be used going forward in a post made to the Facebook Safety account the day following the Paris attacks.