What Facebook Stands to Gain With Its 'Ask' Button

Why filling in the blanks on your profile is a win for Facebook.

ByABC News
May 27, 2014, 11:36 AM

May 27, 2014— -- It may be the age of the digital "ask" but is anyone answering?

With one click and a quick note, users can query friends about the status of their love lives if they've chosen to not list that information on their profile. They can also ask for friends to fill in other blank areas, such as phone number or favorite television shows.

Every time someone chooses to share another piece of their life with Facebook, it's a win for the social network, said Nikki Usher, a professor at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

"In the end, there is this equation between Facebook giving you a free service and them having to make money," Usher told ABC News. "Every time you enter data, it provides one other way of finding out information."

One way Facebook can use the additional information is to serve even better targeted advertisements, "because they know the most about you," Usher said. "That gives them this tremendous advantage when it comes to advertising."

Last week, a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News the "ask" button has been around for a few months, but the company only recently decided to test it in the love department, basically offering users another chance to engage on the network.

"This feature provides an easy way for friends to ask you for information that's not already on your profile," a Facebook spokesperson said.

Usher said it's not necessarily a bad thing -- and believes it's up to individual users about how much information they want to reveal.

"Teenagers may be loving the ask button. College students may be loving it. But 20-, 30-somethings may find it offensive," she said.

What do you think of the Facebook "ask" button? Have you received any requests from friends that you have answered? Let us know in the comments.