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Facebook to Play Cupid in Online Dating Debut

Facebook to Offer Dating Service

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Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay
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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)

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Hillary Clinton Wishes to Head the Facebook

The former US presidential candidate was at Harvard on Friday receiving the Radcliffe Medal, which honours people who have "had a transformative impact on society".

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In a bid to prevent foreign interference into elections, facebook has also begun labelling all political and issue ads in the us -- including a
Hillary Clinton is willing to head the Social media giant, Facebook. VOA

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might be willing to swap a life in politics to lead the world’s largest social-networking company, a media report said.

On being asked by Attorney General Maura Healey, a democrat from Massachusetts, which company she would want to be the CEO of, Clinton didn’t pause before quickly answering “Facebook”, CNET reported on Friday.

“It’s the biggest news platform in the world. Most people in our country get their news — true or not from Facebook,” Clinton was quoted as saying.

In a bid to prevent foreign interference into elections, facebook has also begun labelling all political and issue ads in the us -- including a "paid for by" disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the advertisement.
Facebook CEO of Mark Zuckerberg Wikimedia commons

The former US presidential candidate was at Harvard on Friday receiving the Radcliffe Medal, which honours people who have “had a transformative impact on society”.

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Facebook is working to win back its users’ trust following a series of recent controversies, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data from as many as 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared with the political consultancy.

In a bid to prevent foreign interference into elections, Facebook has also begun labelling all political and issue ads in the US — including a “Paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the advertisement.

Advertisers wanting to run ads with political content in the US will also need to verify their identity and location. (IANS)