At this year’s annual F8 Conference, Facebook’s developer event being held in San Jose, California, company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social giant would be making a move on the dating industry by launching a new service.
Zuckerberg announced during the conference that the feature would also take into account privacy issues and that he plans to launch the app soon. Privacy is a big topic at the moment following the Cambridge Anaytica scandal, and the imminent arrival of the GDPR laws.
The company plans to integrate its dating service within the main Facebook platform. Many would suggest that the move into this area has been a long time coming for the company. According to Zuckerberg, more than 200 million users of the world’s largest social network list their dating status as single, which suggests adding a dating section to the main platform may be a logical move. Users of the site have been able to broadcast their relationship status ever since the site went live to the public in February 2004.
The addition of a dating platform would transform the company, which has over 2.2 billion active users, into a new main rival for Match Group, the company that operates popular mobile dating services OkCupid and Tinder. As a result of Zuckerberg’s announcement, stock fell by 17% for Match Group.
As not everyone will want to be a part of the dating part of the site, it will be optional to users and will be an opt-in service. Furthermore, Zuckerberg stated that the service has been designed with privacy in mind. It will not show a user’s profile to their friends, nor will it suggest them to you as dates. It will only suggest those who users are not connected with.
Chris Cox, the Product Chief at Facebook, continued the discussion to shed more light on the service and to give attendees a demonstration of the design. Profiles will be similar in appearance to some existing and popular dating apps such as Bumble and Tinder, with profile pictures that take up the majority of space on the screen. To make it more unique to these platforms, Facebook plans to take a more community-focused approach and integrate events and groups.
Another feature of the app will be ‘unlocking’, which will let the user control whether their profile is visible to other attendees of an event or group, should it be integrated with the dating service. Messaging on the dating service will also be different to regular messages on the platform and will be clearly different to regular chats on Messenger.
Some people at the conference speculated that the service would be restricted to those who have listed themselves as single on the main platform, meaning that those listed as ‘in a relationship’ or ‘married’ would be bypassed, but Facebook does not appear to be planning to do this at present.
Cox indicated that the company would reveal more information, including details of more features and a release date later on in the year after it has conducted a series of tests.