Facebook launches dating feature for the 200 million ‘singles’ on its platform

“This is going to be for building real long-term relationships, not just for hookups,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said while trying to consciously differentiate Tinder from its newly announced service called ‘Dating’.

Treading forward on its ongoing efforts of integrating myriad features on its primary app — Stories, Jobs, Messenger — on day 1 of F8 2018, Zuckerberg also announced a new dating service, which is simply called Dating, and will also be baked into Facebook.

The similarity of the feature’s essence to apps like Tinder and Hinge is unarguably uncanny. And it’s clear that Facebook is once again looking for success through imitation, just like it “took inspiration” from Snapchat and LinkedIn some time ago.

However, the company chief insists that Dating is different, as it will help find users more meaningful relationships over just hookups.

“If we’re focused on helping people build meaningful relationships, then this is perhaps the most meaningful of all,” Zuckerberg said. Zuckerberg spoke about couples he has come across who thanked him, as it was Facebook which helped them first meet each other. According to him, Facebook’s 200 million single users provide immense opportunity to justify the Dating feature.

Basically, once the feature is live, interested users can set up a dating profile within their existing Facebook account. Zuckerberg assured that your friends won’t be able to view your dating profile, and it will only appear for other people using the dating service. Also, the service won’t pair you with your existing friends. Facebook also clarified that the information from Dating profiles will not be used for targeting ads. Facebook will start testing the feature later this year.

But if not friends then who, and how?

As it appears, Facebook will connect you by asking you to “unlock” groups or events on the platform, which will allow you to see other people who unlocked the same event or are part of the same group. The idea is to bring people having similiar interests together.

Also, potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common and mutual friends. Once matched, you will be able to exchange messages in a new section, which would be independent from Messenger.

The timing of the announcement of Dating seems very odd, considering many users are already ill at ease at the moment with the Cambridge Analytica data breach. And using the service would mean, a new set of information being shared with the platform, and this time, something more intimate like dating preferences.

But Facebook already has a presence on these dating apps

Having said that, we can’t miss the important reality here, which is that most of these dating apps rely on Facebook for data. When you sign in, for instance on Tinder, it automatically pulls in your Facebook profile image and shows you the mutual friends with the people recommended for a match. And this reliance on Facebook became painfully clear recently, when Tinder temporarily stopped working after some changes were made to Facebook with its data-sharing policies.

That’s also the reason why the announcement of Dating has the dating service apps feeling anxious. As pointed out by Recode, news of Facebook’s new feature caused the stock of the Match Group, the company that owns Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com, to quickly decline.

In theory, Facebook’s Dating will be easier, in the sense that you will not need an extra app for match making. It could be efficient, in the sense of the number of people there are on the platform and the amount of time we spend on it.

However, after all that has gone down over the last couple of months, how many people will be willing to comfortably share their personal information, is yet to be seen.

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