You may soon find your perfect match on Facebook. The social media giant announced the rollout of a dating feature on its platform this week. The feature will work by allowing you to click on a “heart” icon to reach what the company is going to call your “dating home.”
From there you will be able to set up a dating profile that will not be visible to people on your friends list. From your dating home, a user will be able to browse nearby groups and events and indicate interest in them.
Your profile is then shared with others attending that event – you will also be able to see their profiles. Users will then be able to start conversations with each other.
The company says those conversations will be text only in the beginning as a “safety measure,” and that those chats will remain separate from standard Facebook messaging and WhatsApp.
“It mirrors the way people actually date, which is usually at events and institutions that they’re connected to,” said Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox.
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg indicated this was a space of untapped potential for the company. “There are 200 million people on Facebook who list themselves as single,” the CEO said at the company’s annual F8 developer conference. “So clearly there’s something to do here.” But he said, it’s a feature the company hopes people will use to build long term relationships. “Not just hookups,” he said.
He also tried to assuage fears about security around a feature fraught with personal-information risks. “I know a lot of you are going to have questions about this,” Zuckerberg said. “We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.”
The company has been rocked by months of negative publicity around security breaches involving the personal information of tens of millions of its users. Some 87 million Facebook’ers had their personal information compromised by a data mining firm that allegedly used the information to sway votes in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The breach happened in 2015 but the company neither notified its users nor took steps to confirm that the firm, Cambridge Analytica, deleted the data as Facebook had requested. Users’ responses to the new dating feature will be test for how well Facebook has been able to address trust issues and how much credibility the company still maintains with its users.
Shares of Match Group, the parent company of popular dating platforms such as Tinder, Match.com and OKCupid, fell more than 20% on Facebook’s announcement.
Photo by Anthony Quintano via Flickr