Like it or not, we live our lives on Facebook. Even if we’re not glued to the social network day in and day out, it’s where most people chronicle life’s milestones: birthdays, new jobs, weddings, and new babies. (Lots and lots of babies.) But as we all know, life isn’t just about job promotions and newborns. A lot of bad stuff happens too, and quite often, that’s where things start to get weird on Facebook.
Thankfully, Facebook is aware of this and wants to make things less awkward–at least when it comes to weathering the end of a relationship. Today, the company announced a new feature designed to help navigate a breakup and make it easier to avoid your ex’s Facebook presence.
When a relationship ends–and is so declared in the “Relationship Status” field–Facebook will automatically display options that let you filter out updates from an ex. The new tools, which are being tested on mobile in the U.S., will also make mutually tagged photos and statuses invisible to others, and allow you to block sections of your profile from your ex.
Of course, you could always unfriend or block your ex (and you probably should, if we’re being real). Not only does unfriending immediately delete the person from your news feed, but it also removes the temptation to cyberstalk them (which you’re going to do anyway, but at least this way there are fewer potentially soul-crushing details to uncover). If the relationship is over in real life, for the love of god, end it on Facebook, too. Just tap the “unfriend” button, download Tinder, and start swiping.
But for those of us who still want to keep that person in our digital lives without seeing constant reminders of how much better off they seem to be without us, this feature is a win. It also gives you greater control over, say, photos in which you are both tagged that don’t simply disappear when you unfriend someone.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has made changes to reflect life’s more grim realities. In 2012, the company attracted some unwanted headlines when users started noticing that some friends were “liking” big companies on Facebook, despite the fact that those friends had died. It was just one example of how, in its rush to connect everybody on the planet and serve as a repository for our memories, photos, and musings, Facebook hadn’t given much thought to what happens when a person ceases to exist offline. (Earlier this year, Facebook finally gave users the option to either automatically delete their profile after they pass away or designate a “legacy contact” who can manage their posthumous Facebook presence.)
It’s hard enough to deal with breakups in real life. If nothing else, Facebook’s new breakup management tool makes it just a tad easier to maneuver the digital trail left in the wake of a failed relationship.