Facebook adds ‘expected child’ option

2 Aug 2011

Social networking site Facebook is now enabling its users to publicise to their friends when they’re expecting a child via an option in the Friends and Family section of a user’s profile, but the move has generated some controversy.

A user can now go to ‘Edit Profile’, then to select ‘Friends and family’ and from the ‘Select relation’ drop-down menu choose ‘Expected: Child.’ Users can then go on to include the baby’s due date, name or nickname while in utero.

The move in and of itself, should come as no surprise, as Facebook is constantly implementing features users can employ to personalise their profiles. However, some have criticised the ‘Expected: Child’ option as taking personalisation a step too far.

“The feature makes it a very clinical way to share what some consider very sacred information,” Scott Campbell, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan told Tech News Daily.

“Facebook makes listing a child announcement as casual as updating job information and hobbies.”

For example, impending births generally used to be announced directly and verbally (or at least via email) by the expectant parent(s) to friends and family members. Imagine how a cousin would feel, for example, to first learn her relative is going to be a parent via a news feed or congratulatory note posted by someone else?

“If your ‘friends’ find out you’re pregnant through Facebook, maybe they’re not really friends. Any congratulations they’d give would likely be gratuitous and empty, anyway,” one web user commented in response to news of the new feature.

Twitter users have described the feature as “almost creepy”.

Parents-to-be may also need to keep in mind the timing of making public their pregnancy news – too early could provide awkward if the pregnancy fails or if a boss has yet to be told.