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Facebook announces new dating features to put your data to use

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

03 May 2018

During his keynote speech at the Facebook F8 conference this week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new features for “building real, long-term relationships” and “meaningful” connections between strangers on the social media platform.

That’s right. Meet Facebook Dating.

Facebook’s in-app Dating features will allow users to create a dating profile which will be visible to non-friends. The platform will then match you to other individuals based on a set of preferences, most likely using the data it already has on you. You’ll be able to browse through the profiles of other users who’ve opted-in to the Dating features, seeing their photos and basic information. If you want to chat, you’ll be directed to a separate inbox, one that’s distinct from both Messenger and WhatsApp.

According to Facebook:

Potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events.

It makes sense that Facebook would move into the huge online dating field, given that they already have your relationship status (if you’ve included it on your profile). In fact, thanks to your Facebook profile and your years of usage, Facebook probably has more information than you’re ever likely to share with any other dating app.

And what better way for them to use that data than to help you find a partner?

However, it’s not all that egalitarian. As Wired pointed out, facilitating connections between strangers is a fantastic way to keep the company’s growth increasingly amongst older users. This is one of the main demographics in which they are gaining new users, while those under 35 are leaving the company by the thousands.

Of course, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal still hanging over the company, users might think twice about opting-in to a service that allows their information to be seen by potentially thousands of non-friends. While Zuckerberg went to pains to state that privacy would be a major focus of Dating, we’ve not yet been shown how this will pan out.

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