Last week, when launching the new Facebook subscribe button, the social network hid the much-maligned “Poke” button behind a settings menu, making it pretty unlikely that visitors to your profile page will see it.
Guess what: Facebook users didn’t notice.
While there was a minor backlash about the new real-time Ticker at the top of the site, not to mention the Top News section at the top of your news feed, only a handful of eagle-eyed bloggers noticed that the Poke button had virtually been retired. This from a community that balks at the slightest change.
What’s more, Facebook’s huge upcoming redesign (Facebook Timeline) keeps the Poke button behind this same dropdown menu — there are no plans to make it visible again.
Here’s my problem with the poke: What the heck does it mean?
I originally assumed that Poking was merely flirting: a subtle way to get the attention of another Facebook user. And yet just less than half of my Pokes are from males. So again: What does a Poke mean? And should we take a Poke to be flirtatious when it could, in my case, just as easily mean “Hey, I just sent you a press release about my new app”?
Facebook doesn’t even know what a Poke means, with the Help page reading: “The poke feature can be used for a variety of things on Facebook. For instance, you can poke your friends to say hello.” Ah, so they’re either saying hello, or flirting, or pestering … or something completely different.
If you’re going to Poke someone, isn’t there a better way to get your message across? Perhaps send them a Facebook Message? Like or comment on one of their updates? And isn’t it the case that a good percentage of Pokes are intended as ironic?
Or perhaps I’m wrong: Is there a huge group of Facebook Poke fans out there? Do I just need to be college-aged to understand the wonder of the Poke? Perhaps we all love to complain about the Poke but secretly love it?