Facebook Wants to be Your New Favorite Online Dating Service

Josh Edelson  AFP via Getty ImagesA sign is seen at the entrance to Facebook's corporate headquarters in Menlo Park

Facebook users who are concerned about privacy after the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal will be pleased with another of the announcements. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) posed to Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg's congressional hearing in which the latter responded with an awkward "no". More care needs to be taken by Facebook and its tech industry peers to ensure that in connecting people with one another, these connections are positive-a sentiment which Mr. Zuckerberg said his company strives to achieve. Timing for the service has not yet been announced. Users not on the dating site will not be able to see their profile, and the profile will not show up in the News Feed.

"I know that it hasn't been easy being a developer these last couple of months, and that's probably an understatement", Zuckerberg told the large crowd of devs gathered in San Jose, California. Of course, Zuckerburg assured those assembled (sorry, I'm still basking in the glow of Avengers: Infiniti War) that it's been "designed. with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning". When you create a dating profile or your parents create one for you, it won't be visible to anyone else on your friend list. It's an opt-in feature, and users won't be matched with people they're already friends with on Facebook. There will also be a messaging section to open a line of communication but won't be connected to WhatsApp or Messenger. Only about 41 percent of those 65 and older appear to be Facebook users, and all of the age groups are far less likely to use Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, pretty much, although not purely, in that order.

Facebook also announced a new "Clear History" feature at the conference that will allow users to see and limit the data the company is able to view and store.

Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at research firm eMarketer, said the company will need to be transparent as to how it uses member data and who sees it.

The announcement was a big blow to online dating company Match, which also owns the Tinder app. Shares of the Match group plunged by 22 percent, while those of its parent company IAC also dropped by nearly 18 percent, according to CNBC.

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Facebook is still receiving criticism over its practices of collecting user data, even when users are logged out of Facebook. It also helps companies weed out fake profiles.

"We're flattered that Facebook is coming into our space", Ginsberg said.

Among them was news of plans to build a dating platform directly into its mobile apps-news investors in Match Group, the owner of a whole lot of online dating services including Tinder and Match.com, didn't take very well. The dating feature is set to roll out later this year.

Match Group that owns apps match, tinder, okcupid among numerous other apps reacted sharply to the announcement as it closed the day at $36.71, down 22 percent.

As much as Facebook may want us to believe this is a well-intentioned move, to not fear that Facebook would be keeping tabs on the users of the dating app would be naive. Facebook's laissez-faire attitude toward privacy protection is not just a betrayal and insult to its user base, but it is compounded by its lack of vigilance to protect one of the platform's most vulnerable user demographics-African Americans.

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