Facebook adds cringeworthy Valentine’s Day feature to Messenger that’s definitely not going to help with dwindling numbers
Over the past few weeks there has been plenty written about Facebook’s dwindling number of users. In the UK alone, the number of 12-24 year-olds using the social network is expected to drop by 700,000 in 2018.
To stop the bleeding, Facebook has got its very best minds in one room and come up with a Valentine’s-day inspired feature for Messenger to make the website simply too irresistible to leave. Can you guess what it is? Love hearts. That’s right, users who have recently ‘gone public’ with their relationship on the social network will be treated to seeing love hearts float across the screen of chats with their squeeze on Messenger.
The social network’s video promoting the new feature is titled “It’s not official until it’s Facebook official. Update your relationship status on Facebook and shower bae with ❤️❤️❤️on Messenger. You can also personalise messages by customising your chat emoji, colour and more!”
Of course, it’s possible that having hit the grand age of 30 I may have turned into a cynical, grumpy old git overnight. But what’s more likely is that it’s just a really, really terrible idea. Facebook’s blog post about the new features, which also include pushing ‘bae’ to the top of your contacts list, reads like a parody, it’s so cringeworthy. And what’s even worse, there’s not a hint of humour, or a clue that any of it is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
As Mashable has pointed out, what’s probably going on here is that Facebook is trying to force users back onto the social network (to change their relationship status), where its money is made, with the incentive of unlocking “perks” on its ever-popular Messenger app.
I think users, especially the teens its aimed at, will see right through the stunt and won’t be drawn into using a social network that’s dying among their demographic and growing rapidly in popularity among over-55s. Even when I was fresh-faced and naive (and the social network was relatively new and exciting) way back in 2006, I can’t imagine ever being drawn in by what is essentially the gamification of romance.
Thankfully, Google’s celebration of Valentine’s Day is altogether more charming than Facebook’s new features. Its Doodle shows two grebes ice skating in a nod to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Depending on your tolerance for puns, the written commentary, which is loaded to the point of saturation with bird-related quips might be best avoided, though. Although you’ve probably already lost your breakfast thanks to Facebook’s excessive use of the word “bae”.