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Facebook's gender blunder

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Jul. 10th, 2008 | 01:15 pm

I've had my gender as "Select One" on Facebook since I first signed up. I have a few other friends that have it that way too. The only effect it really has is that your gender is not displayed on your profile, and that when you do certain things, the mini-feed uses a gender-neutral plural:

facebook gender

Recently, however, I guess facebook decided to address this oversight. Today when I logged into my facebook homepage, I received this message:

facebook gender

I can't imagine what they hope to accomplish by this. I don't think that most users will react with "Oh thank god, now my friends on facebook can know what gender I am, I can't believe I forgot to fill that in." There are many users like me who find Facebook's sex & sexuality options limited. I actually use the SGO application to put a box on my profile that's more informative, and in that box, yes, I do identify my sex as female. But that's hardly the point. I generally identify with "not otherwise specified" and I feel I have a right to straddle the line, if I please.

So luckily, you'll notice, facebook prompt has a third option, which is the one I'll be picking. It's "close".

Update: I've made a facebook group encouraging people to switch to an unspecified gender. This should be interesting...

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Comments {15}

Blue Sky Thinker

(no subject)

from: koan69
date: Jul. 10th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
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To lose the diet ads, I'd do it... but for a whole host of other reasons, I won't.

I agree that it is appalling the way this is being by Facebook. Idiots

Edited at 2008-07-10 10:10 pm (UTC)

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entrenched ambiguity

(no subject)

from: doppmonster
date: Jul. 10th, 2008 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Update: I just saw a diet ad.

Damnit!

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Blue Sky Thinker

(no subject)

from: koan69
date: Jul. 10th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
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:(

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hurtstotouchfire

(no subject)

from: httf
date: Jul. 11th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
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Apparently Facebook did address this publicly before doing it (which is wise) but I'm still not impressed. They claim it's for translation purposes, and claim that they respect people wish to leave their gender unspecified, but they obviously put out the notification in hopes that some people will pick one. It's like they're saying "it's ok for some people to be unspecified, but we'd like for there to be fewer of you."

And furthermore, they say "When you make a selection, that will appear in Mini-Feed and News Feed stories about you, but it won't be searchable or displayed in your Basic Information." But will it affect ads? I'm going to post asking them that.

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hurtstotouchfire

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from: httf
date: Jul. 11th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
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I can understand that. The thing I find funny is that their original policy (allowing you to not select either gender, but not actively providing any sort of trans-friendly options) was a pretty classic safe policy for a socially moderate company. And then they had to go and screw it up by drawing attention to it.

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