Are you one of the 200 million Facebook users who listed themselves as “single”? Soon, you’ll be able to try out their new matchmaking feature. After all, Facebook knows more about you than all but your closest friends, so the company may have a better shot at introducing you to the love of your life than, say, your coworker or an acquaintance from book club.
The new feature was announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference. Considering that Zuckerberg originally created Facebook to rank the relative hotness of his female classmates, it seems only fitting that the social media platform would make a foray into online dating.
How It Works
Although we don’t yet have a firm release date for Facebook Dating, we have an idea of how the service will work. According to the official announcement, it will “mirror the way people meet in real life — through the experiences they have in common.”
Once the feature becomes available, users can opt in by creating a profile. This will be quarantined from the rest of your social media presence so that your friends and family won’t know that you’ve signed up. You also won’t be matched with anyone already on your friends list. Instead, you’ll be able to browse Groups and Events in your area to find other Facebook Daters and browse their profiles.
If you find someone you like, you can exchange messages through a text-only system, meaning that you won’t be able to exchange pics—wanted or otherwise. The communication system will be separate from Facebook Messenger.
Tinder Stock Plummets
Although it uses some of the same mechanics as hookup apps like Tinder, Facebook Dating is more focused on matchmaking for long-term relationships. Despite this, Tinder’s parent company Match Group saw their shares drop by 17 percent following Zuckerberg’s announcement.
It’s not clear yet whether Facebook users will embrace the dating feature. On the one hand, it could be an effective way to meet like-minded singles in your area. But on the other hand, do you really want to give Facebook even more influence over your life and the data collected about it?
Concerns Over Safety and Privacy
Facebook is still trying to do damage control over the Cambridge Analyitca scandal, and many people are already wary about the way the company handles personal data. It doesn’t help that in April, Grindr was discovered to have shared sensitive information—including HIV status—with its advertisers.
Beyond concern over how Facebook will use the information it gathers, there’s also a question of how safe those who opt in to the dating service will be from creeps and stalkers. Facebook Dating profiles will show your first name as well as the city you live in, and potentially your workplace. Determined stalkers could easily use that information to find you.
Zuckerberg did not address these privacy concerns at F8, but the company should be very careful as it proceeds to ensure that its users are protected. Otherwise, it’ll be Cambridge Analytica all over again.