If anyone's added you as a friend on Facebook recently, you may notice something different: previously, upon confirming a friend request, you were redirected to a separate page that asked you to check a few boxes and fill out a text field or two describing your relationship with the person in question. The options range from "Went to school together" to "In my family" to "We hooked up." The Facebook member on the other end of the "relationship" must then confirm the detail before it becomes visible to anyone who's sifting through either of their friends lists. Kind of cute, especially when you fill it out with something funny that isn't true ("They were members of Wu-Tang Clan from 1895 to 1901"), but many Facebook users have typically skipped it altogether, seeing it as a bit unnecessary or annoying. A button called "Skip This Step" provided an easy way out of it.
But that's changed. Now, the "How do you know this person?" prompt is in the form of an Ajax pop-up box, not a separate page, but something else is different. You now no longer have the ability to skip the step where you describe the relationship you have with your new Facebook friend, making friend adds with ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, former high school enemies, and Craigslist Missed Connection hook-ups potentially very awkward. It's unclear as to exactly when this change came about, but it appears to have happened this weekend.
(Aside: I noticed this when another blogger added me as a friend on Facebook. After racking my brains over exactly what kind of relationship connection to use, I finally chose "From an organization or team" and typed in "The blogosphere." Sorry for using that overexposed term.)
Facebook users--judging by blog posts and Twitter updates--don't appear to be happy. And the last time Facebook users got really ticked over an update to the site that they perceived as a step down in privacy and control functionality (remember the early days of the News Feed?) things got a little ugly. The "Skip This Step" issue has shown early signs of also becoming a headache for the company: social-networking blog Mashable even tossed up a makeshift "petition" to bring back the "Skip This Step" option.
But according to a new high-profile Facebook employee, it's a glitch. A comment on the Mashable post Sunday night from Blake Ross, co-founder of recent Facebook acquisition Parakey, explained, "This is a bug that will be fixed soon. Trust me, we find this as annoying as you do," Ross wrote. (Thanks to Eric Skiff for pointing this out.)
We've e-mailed Facebook for confirmation and will keep you posted when we hear back.
So, ultimately it looks like we can learn an interesting tidbit from this whole mini-debacle: if the Parakey co-founder is chipping in on something pertaining to friend request confirmation, that could be a cool peek into what's to come from Facebook's new buy. Parakey, as you may know already, specializes in bridging the gap between offline desktop applications and Web services. Total speculation here (and I'm not a code guru by any means), but perhaps some kind of desktop-accessible alert system is in the works?