Earlier today, Gawker reported on a mysterious Facebook feature: Go to the search engine, press the “down” key on your keyboard, and find the name of five friends. Theories abound on what those names mean: Is it simply a random sampling of your online acquaintances? The five people you search the most? The five people who search you the most? Or is it something deeper? My theory: They are the last five people you will search for before you die. (Wes Craven, are you listening?)
Curious tidbit: Out of the friends that I’ve surveyed, nearly everyone has an ex on their list. Is Facebook now explicitly encouraging us all to rebound?
The online social networking community may never know. Since Gawker posted the item, the feature’s disappeared. It seems that, in the time it takes to change your relationship status from (intact heart) to (broken heart), Facebook has eliminated the mysterious list.
Predictably, Facebook users flipped their shit when they heard about this. I know I’ve been agonizing over the significance of my own five names since the fateful Facebook sign-on when I decided to push the down arrow, roughly two hours ago. One Gawker commenter claimed to get this response from a member of the Facebook team when they asked after the feature:
This is the canned response we’ve been using:
The five friends that you see below the search box are populated based on people whom we think you’d be most interested in. Taking into account various factors, we attempt to make an educated guess as to who it is you’re looking for when you start typing a name in the search box. Please note that this information is only visible to you and will not be shared with your friends. We hope that this feature is helpful and we appreciate your feedback. Let me know if you have further questions.“
Alright, Facebook. Obviously, you appear to know me better than I know myself. But enough about me. I’d like to learn something about you for a change. Next time you decide to add another creepy feature to help me live what increasingly does not resemble a “life,” no fair snatching the feature away before I come to understand it!
Update: Gawker clues us in. The feature can still be brought up by typing a period “.” into the search box.
Update update: The feature appears to have disappeared again.