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New Facebook feature lets friends ask about your relationship status

Courtesy: Jim Castel/CNN

Courtesy: Jim Castel/CNN

(CNN) — Is Facebook the new place to meet your significant other?

A new “Ask” feature lets you ping friends who haven’t set their Relationship Status and ask them what’s up. Facebook has been quietly rolling out the feature for testing in select countries, including the United States.

Clicking on “Ask” brings up a dialogue box with the text, “Let (your friend) know why you’re asking for (his/her) relationship status.” It provides space to expand upon your request — say, to invite them out for drinks.

A Facebook spokeswoman said that similar “Ask” buttons have been available on mobile and Web for a few months for other profile information.

“This feature provides an easy way for friends to ask you for information that’s not already on your profile,” Facebook spokeswoman MoMo Zhou said in an e-mail.  “For example, a friend could ask where you work or for your hometown. If you choose to answer, this information is then added to your profile. By default, only you and your friend can see it, and you also have the option of sharing it with others, too.”

Well, that sounds a little less like an overture from someone who’s hitting on you.

Even the relationship-status version presumably will have non-stalkery applications. A friend just checking in. Someone who was at your wedding and offering a gentle reminder for you to update your page.

Maybe even your mom, who remains convinced you’re just not trying hard enough to find Mr. or Ms. Right.

As noted, a user may reply to the person who sent the request without updating their status, though they are given an opportunity to do so. And it’s surely not lost on Facebook that relationship status is a handy piece of information for advertisers trying to target their ads.