On May 1, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the company’s new dating service at its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California. The move challenges existing dating services like Tinder and eHarmony.
Facebook comes into the matchmaking field with the distinct advantage of already having extensive data on its existing users – much of which dates back years. Facebook hopes this knowledge of preferences can help the 200 million active users currently listed as ‘single’ on its network forge long-term relationships.
The dating service, which Zuckerberg says will be rolled out soon, will allow users to set up a dating profile and find people who are attending the same events. This is meant to replicate the way people meet in real life.
For the dating service to be successful, it will be important for Facebook to ease the public’s privacy concerns following the Cambridge Analytica scandal
“This is going to be for building real long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg said in his keynote address at the conference. “It’s going to be in the Facebook app but it’s totally optional – it’s opt-in.
“I know a lot of you are going to have questions about this, so I want to be clear that 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.”
For the service to be successful, it will be important for Facebook to ease the public’s privacy concerns following the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, for which Zuckerberg was required to testify in front of both houses of the US Congress.
The announcement seems to have already had an impact on investors, however, with shares in Match Group – Tinder’s parent company – plummeting more than 20 percent in the wake of Zuckerberg’s remarks.
The conference also comes at a good time for Facebook, as it distracts attention from the departure of WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who left the Facebook-owned company one day prior to the conference over privacy disagreements.