The more ubiquitous Facebook becomes around the world, the more likely you are to one day have an ex-boyfriend, -girlfriend, or -spouse using the service. So what happens when you break up, and you continue to see the trail of their life without you all over the News Feed? Until now, you've had to hide that person, unfriend them, or block them outright. But that won't sever the connection altogether — you may be still tagged in your ex's old photos, for example, or see their name pop up as a suggestion when you write a message.
That starts to change today with new tools that will pop up when you go to change your relationship status. The tools have three major components: limiting how much of your ex you see on Facebook; limiting how much your ex sees of you on Facebook; and limiting people's ability to see past posts where the two of you are together. "This work is part of our ongoing effort to develop resources for people who may be going through difficult moments in their lives," Facebook product manager Kelly Winters wrote in a blog post. "We hope these tools will help people end relationships on Facebook with greater ease, comfort and sense of control."
Much of the effect the new tools have could be accomplished simply by hiding your ex from the News Feed. But not everyone knows that, not least because Facebook's privacy settings regularly change in ways that are not always apparent to users. What's interesting here is how the company is proactively reaching out to users at the time they go to make their breakup Facebook official, walking them through ways they can shield themselves from their ex online.
Technically, the changes are part of a test that begins on mobile devices today in the United States. Facebook says the tools, which are optional to use, will roll out more widely based on user feedback.
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