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Facebook to Play Cupid in Online Dating Debut

Facebook to Offer Dating Service

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Facebook will review posts that are inaccurate or misleading, and are created or shared with the intent of causing violence or physical harm.Pixabay

Facebook will offer its first dating service, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday, signaling the entry of the world’s largest social network into a growing market that sent shares of established dating site operators tumbling.

Zuckerberg told software developers at Facebook’s annual F8 conference that a dating service would be a natural fit for a company that specializes in connecting people online.

“There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there’s something to do here,”
Zuckerberg said.

Facebook users have been able reveal on the network whether they are single or in a relationship since it first went live in February 2004.

Zuckerberg said Facebook was building the dating service with an emphasis on privacy, a sensitive subject for people who use online dating and for Facebook as the company reels from a scandal over its handling of personal information.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg (Wikimedia Commons)

A dating service could increase the time people spend on Facebook and be a “big problem” for competitors such as Match Group, said James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities. Match, the owner of popular mobile dating app Tinder and OkCupid, calls itself the “global leader in dating” on its website.

“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 said.

Match Group shares fell more than 23 percent on the news of Facebook’s service. IAC, Match Group’s parent company, dropped more than 15 percent. Sparks Networks, owner of JDate and ChristianMingle, fell 7.3 percent.

A prototype displayed on screens at the F8 conference showed a heart shape at the top-right corner of the Facebook app.

Pressing on it will take people to their dating profile if they have set one up.

The prototype was built around local, in-person events, allowing people to browse other attendees and send them messages.

Also Read: Amid Data Privacy Scandal, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum Quits Facebook

It did not appear to have a feature to “swipe” left or right on potential matches to signal interest, as Tinder and other established services have.

Dating service optional

The feature will be for finding long-term relationships, “not just hook-ups,” Zuckerberg said. It will be optional and will launch soon, he added, without giving a specific day.

Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said in a separate presentation that the company would share more over the next few months.

Cox said he had been thinking about a dating feature on Facebook since 2005, when he joined the company about a year after its founding.

The company began seriously considering adding a dating service in 2016, when Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page a photo of a couple who had met on the network, Cox said.

Thousands of people responded to Zuckerberg’s post with similar stories about meeting partners on Facebook, Cox said.

“That’s what got the gears turning,” he said.

Online Dating.
Online Dating. Pixabay

People will be able to start a conversation with a potential match by commenting on one of their photos, but for safety reasons that Cox did not specify, the conversations will be text-only, he said.

Facebook executives were quick to highlight other features for safety and privacy, noting that dating activity would not show up in Facebook’s centerpiece News Feed.

Concerns about privacy on Facebook have grown since the social network’s admission in March that the data of millions of users was wrongly harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

A dating service “represents a potentially challenging situation if Facebook can’t fulfill its promise to offer dating services in a privacy-protected and safe way,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at eMarketer.

Also Read:  Facebook Launches its Oculus Go VR Headset Globally

However, “I’m sure it will make good use of the data Facebook has been able to collect about its users,” she added.

‘Clear history’

Zuckerberg also said on Tuesday that Facebook was building a new privacy control called “clear history” to allow users to delete browsing history, similar to the option of clearing cookies in a browser.  (VOA)

Next Story

Facebook Rolls Out an Update to Rank Comments on Public Posts to Make Conversations Meaningful

The users can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting or engaging with comments

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Facebook will now start showing comments on public posts more prominently when the comments have interactions from the page or the person who originally posted or from friends of the person who posted. Pixabay

In a move to make conversations on public posts more meaningful, Facebook has rolled out an update where it will rank comments to promote those that are most relevant to users.

Facebook will now start showing comments on public posts more prominently when the comments have interactions from the page or the person who originally posted or from friends of the person who posted.

“We will continue to take other signals into account so we do not prominently show low-quality comments, even if they are from the person who made the original post or their friends,” Justine Shen, Product Manager at Facebook, said in a statement on Friday.

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FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

The users can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting or engaging with comments. Ranking is on by default for Pages and people with a lot of followers, but Pages and people with a lot of followers can choose to turn off comment ranking.

ALSO READ: Facebook Now Expands Ad Breaks to Marathi, Punjabi, Kannada and Telugu

People who don’t have as many followers will not have comment ranking turned on automatically since there are less comments overall, but any person can decide to enable comment ranking by going to their settings.

“We want people to see safe and authentic comments. If a comment violates our community standards, we remove it. “We also take into account other signals, like engagement-bait, to address the integrity of information and improve the quality of comments people see,” said Facebook. (IANS)