Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has, of late, been in the news for all the wrong reasons, is looking to put all that behind him, if his Tuesday keynote address at the company’s annual developers’ conference, F8, is anything to go by.
The face behind Facebook revealed that the company would be adding a dating layer to its social networking platform to help its 200 million single users to build “real, long-term relationships” and not just “hook-ups.”
“There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there’s something to do here,” Zuckerberg.
“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships — not just for hookups,” he quipped, adding that the feature would be part of the main Facebook app and it would be left completely to the users’ discretion to register for the opt-in service or not.
“We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends.”
While many may question the timing of the announcement, which comes barely six weeks after the Cambridge Analytica controversy, it may actually work out to be a masterstroke from the Facebook CEO.
Offering a service that demands far greater security and data protection than ever before, that too at a time when the company is mired in a massive data breach scandal, Zuckerberg is, probably, using it as reverse psychology to gain back the lost confidence in the site.
“I know a lot of you are going to have questions about this,” said Zuckerberg. “We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.”
The dating service idea is something that Facebook has long considered but for some reason, it was kept on the backburners for years, until it saw some fruition on Tuesday, at least, in terms of intent.
The Facebook billionaire is of the opinion that there can’t be a better time than now to introduce the service on its platform– bearing in mind that 34 percent of marriages in the U.S. are the result of internet relationships.
He said that if the company remained “focused on helping people build meaningful relationships, then this is perhaps the most meaningful of all.”
This announcement is sure to have raised a few hackles in the ranks of existing dating sites like Tinder, OkCupid, eHarmony, JDate, and Match – companies that witnessed a sharp decline in their stock values following the announcement.
Facebook shares, on the other hand, went up by 1.1 percent, closing at $173.86 on the news.
The Facebook move, obviously aimed at increasing the time users spend on the platform – which has seen a substantial decline in recent times – poses a “big problem” for the competition mentioned above, says James Cordwell an analyst at Atlantic Equities, reports Reuters.
“But the initial functionality looks relatively basic compared to those offered by Match’s services, so the impact Facebook has on the dating space will be down to how well it executes in this area,” Cordwell, reportedly, said.
Facebook product chief Chris Cox shared the proposed dating service’s prototype, which seems to have been perceived along the lines of other mobile-oriented dating apps like Bumble and Tinder where you have full-page profile photos.
However, with the kind of user base and the corresponding data available at Facebook’s disposal, the service is supposed to be more community-based where “potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends.
They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events,” explained Facebook.
Some important takeaways from the proposed dating service
- Before a user can create a dating profile he/she will first have to opt-in, making it very much a discretionary choice.
- The dating profile created will not be visible to friends; not even to users who aren’t on the dating platform.
- The profile will never show up in the News Feed
- Users can browse local Events as well as Groups with shared interests and if anything strikes their fancy, they can use the “unlock” option to access the profiles of other users of the feature, provided they have also unlocked that surface.
- Facebook will then try and match them with people based on mutual interests and friends, taking into consideration other data that Facebook has on its users.
- Users can browse through the profiles of the suggested matchups and if both parties are on the same page, a special conversation can be started in a dedicated messaging tool, separate from FB Messenger or WhatsApp.
- For security reasons, only text messages will be allowed between parties, at least in the initial stages.
Some interesting reactions the Facebook dating service
announcement has elicited from, both, individuals and companies.
Congrats! You two are a match! Our algorithm paired you together because you both sleep in the same position!
BOTH: Uh…how do you know which position w-
FACEBOOK DATING: -LOL! Enough chitchat! Go enjoy your date, Lovebirds!
— Jesse McLaren (@McJesse) May 2, 2018
Facebook is moving into the online dating market.
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) May 2, 2018
— VG Somasekhar (@vgsoma) May 2, 2018
A dating app, Facebook? pic.twitter.com/x1ZDVNqLqC
— Late Night with Seth Meyers (@LateNightSeth) May 2, 2018
Facebook announces plans for a new dating service, which will match users based on their medical records and bank details.
— Have I Got News For You (@haveigotnews) May 2, 2018