When you log into social media website Facebook, your status update box probably reads "What's on your mind?" in grey lettering. But a Kiwi ex-pat journalist, who now lives in New York City, noticed this morning that Facebook was instead filling his update box with Halloween-themed prompts such as "Describe your Halloween costume".
Here in New Zealand, we didn't see any changes - either yesterday or today - but the fact that the experiment is localised to the US is interesting in itself. If it goes beyond experimentation and becomes a regular feature of Facebook, the company could start using localised prompts in other countries, too. Facebook could soon start asking how Kiwis (and Brits) plan to celebrate Guy Fawkes' Day, or what ask we're doing with our days off on Queen's Birthday weekend.
The Halloween prompts are fairly harmless; it's probably just a bit of fun. But given the amount of information Facebook has about you (and everyone you know), I can see it getting creepier. "What did you get for your birthday?", it might ask. Even worse, slack significant others could get caught out when Facebook asks, "What are you doing for your anniversary with x?" (Actually, that might be helpful for those who forget anniversaries.)
Presumably, Facebook is experimenting with prompts as a way to get users' juices flowing and increase engagement with the platform. My bet is that it'll work - people already love to share what costume they're wearing or what they got for Christmas.