couples

Facebook's 'couples' pages not off to happy start

Nov. 16, 2012 at 1:04 PM ET

Facebook /
An example of a couples page as shown by Facebook.

I didn't ask for a "couples" page on Facebook. The whole idea seems... saccharine and very 1950s. Besides, it's one thing for me to share photos of my beloved on my Facebook page, but another to have a page automatically generated of "us." That's creepy. Period.

The new twist on a two-year-old feature — "Friendship" pages —  was referenced somewhat backhandedly last week by Facebook when it announced redesigned Friendship pages.

... we're introducing a new layout for friendship pages. Friendship pages combine posts, photos and events that you and another person have shared. Click the gear menu at the top of a friend's timeline to see a friendship page. If you've listed yourself as "in a relationship" with someone, you can also visit facebook.com/us to see the friendship page you share with that person.

Like many folks, I headed on over to Facebook.com/us — the "us" isn't for U.S., it's for "us." Get it? It's just meant to be a URL shortcut, Facebook says, to see all the posts connected to the person you say you're in a relationship with, but it's irritating.

According to that Facebook.com/us couples page for my husband and I, we became "friends" on June 13, 2009. OK, I get it, that's the day we became "Facebook friends."

Then I saw — surprise! — we were married that very same day! Wrong! We may have become Facebook friends that day, but, no matter how fast my husband moves, it's not that fast. We were married long before then, but it's not a date I have ever shared on the social network. So much for Facebook's algorithms and formulae.

Suzanne Choney / TODAY.com /
My Facebook "couples" page, which shows my husband and I becoming "friends" and getting married on the same day.

I'm not alone in discovering this freaky sideshow-ish page. Couples all over may be finding that Facebook has messed with their anniversaries. If you, like me, haven't put in a wedding date, Facebook won't leave it blank like it should on the much-disliked Timeline. Instead, it inserts this nonsensical misinformation.

My co-workers also checked out facebook.com/us only to find their own laughable results (and it's a good thing they have senses of humor). Tech & Science editor Wilson Rothman noted that in "real life," he and his wife got married in 2005. "In Facebook land," as he put it, they were wed in 2007.

The "couples" page itself is generated on Facebook when you change your profile to indicate that you are "in a relationship" with someone, a Facebook spokeswoman told TODAY.com. And, in my case — and others — indicating I'm in a relationship, that I'm married and listing the name of my spouse led Facebook to misconnect the dots.

Note: If the person you say you're "in a relationship with" does not say they're in a relationship with you on Facebook, the couples page will not be automatically generated. (This, at least, bodes well for all the Jessica Biel fans who are in denial about her marriage to Justin Timberlake and want to say otherwise on the social network.)

There's not a lot of good news about how to handle this at this point. The information can be made private, but "you cannot deactivate the pages," another Facebook spokeswoman told TODAY.com. You can, however, "control what you share on Facebook using the privacy settings for each post." Great.

"The friendship page respects the privacy setting of each post," she said. "This means the person viewing the friendship page may see each post elsewhere on Facebook, like on either friend's timeline or in news feed. You can curate your friendship page by hiding stories you do not want to appear."

That's all a lot of work, more than it should be for something that's supposed to be fun, but is getting to be less fun all the time.

Here's what to do if you'd just as soon not show friendship or couples pages publicly. On Facebook, go to the Help page for Friendship pages.

Facebook /
First, familiarize yourself with how to see Friendship pages.

Now, follow these instructions for removing information:

Facebook /

Weirdly, there's a "Profiles for Couples!" page on Facebook that has been trying since 2009 to make this very thing happens. On that page, some Facebook users have shared their feelings about the new couples pages.

Posted Liz Remb: "This is super lame. I am not a combined unit with my loved one."

"Horrible idea!" posted Andrea Bethard. "I will never list my relationship status for sure now."

"I think people are over thinking this," posted GK Huffman. "I for one already share a Facebook page with my wife because we have the same circle of friends. If you have something to hide then change it, i think it is great."

And on our own TODAY pages, commenting on the story, "How to zap photos from Facebook's new couples pages," published last weekend, "JRS-619990" wrote: that the change feels "like someone coming into your home and rearranging your personal photos in picture frames, photo albums, or scrapbooks."

With this latest "tweak" to the social network, that's exactly how it feels.

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