Facebook's 'Expected: Child' status: Oversharing?

In a hotly debated move, the social networking giant now lets users list an unborn child as a "family member"

Expectant mother
(Image credit: Sandra Seckinger/Corbis)

Last week, Facebook quietly rolled out a new feature: Expectant parents can now list their pregnancy status alongside other personal information such as relationship status and employer. In an intriguing move that has courted controversy and has the tech world buzzing, users can now modify their profiles' "Friends and Family" section to list an "expected: child" as a family member and even list the imminent baby's proposed name and due date. Is this a worthwhile new feature or a problematic over-share?

This puts a wonderful emphasis on unborn life: Facebook should be applauded for this new feature, says Penny Nance, the President and CEO of the anti-abortion group Concerned Women for America, as quoted at The Daily Caller. It acknowledges that the fetus, "although not yet born" is "already a member of a family." Sure, it's likely to rankle pro-abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood, but I think it's commendable to acknowledge an unborn child as a person.

"Pregnancy announcements cause stir on Facebook"

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This might be unwise: This feature would become tragically awkward if the mother-to-be miscarries, says Jamie Frevele at The Mary Sue. We've all seen the thorny issues that Facebook relationship statuses bring up when romance fails, but this would be far worse. Potentially hundreds of so-called "friends" could wind up knowing that the couple in question lost the child. When expecting, it's best "to be extremely cautious and/or patient" before announcing the news on Facebook.

"You can now announce your pregnancy on Facebook. If you really want to."

Yes, proceed with care: Expectant parents should review exactly who is in their Facebook network before using this feature, says Emil Protalinski at ZDNet. "It would be unwise to tell an employer the news at the same time as everyone else," and it's probably best to tell friends and family the big news personally before changing your Facebook status.

"Facebook adds 'Expected: Child' option for parents-to-be"

But hey, it makes business sense for Facebook: "Call us cynics, but this is a great move for Facebook on a financial basis alone," says Jolie O'Dell at VentureBeat. "Parents and parents-to-be are perfect targets for brands and advertisers," and with this feature, Facebook is tapping into a valuable demographic that advertisers are desperate to reach. Still, potential users should ask themselves if "they really want to get bombarded with ads for Similac and $800 strollers."

"Facebook adds pregnancy profile option; let the ads begin!"

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