Mark Zuckerberg wants to find you a date — and he promises to be discreet about your taste for red wine, trashy sitcoms and long walks by the ocean.
Facebook has added a new, nationwide dating platform to its social-networking site, raising fresh questions about its users’ privacy even as it tanked shares of the company that owns the Tinder hookup app.
“If you’re looking for love, we don’t keep the best features behind a paywall,” Facebook exec Nathan Sharp said at a New York media event. “You shouldn’t have to go through endless swipes to find somebody you like.”
The Thursday announcement sent shares of Match Group — the company that owns Tinder, OKCupid and Match.com — tumbling 4.5 percent to $81.74. Facebook shares rose 2 percent to $190.90.
Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 35-year-old chief executive, first revealed the new platform last spring — an awkward time, as the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal had broken just a few weeks earlier.
Since then, Facebook has been beta testing the dating service in about 20 countries abroad. In July, it also settled a case with the Federal Trade Commission over its mishandling of user data for $5 billion.
“Their product could be great for US-Russia relationships,” Joey Levin, CEO of Match Group majority owner IAC, quipped last year.
While the new dating platform won’t initially sell ads, experts noted that it will have the capacity to hoover up more data than ever about its users.
Whether or not you say you like hiking, for example, Facebook could use location data to determine where and how often you actually head to the mountains. Ditto for nightclubs, baseball games and church.
Facebook said potential matches will be presented based on their geographic proximity as well as preferences such as height and age. Users will have the option to give the dating platform access to public Facebook events they’ve marked themselves as “attending” to see if they and their matches have common interests.
Sharp insisted there will be no overlap between a person’s Facebook Dating behavior and their main Facebook page, promising that “all of your activity in Facebook Dating stays in Facebook Dating.”
Still, a “Secret Crush” feature will allow users to designate a handful of their Facebook friends as “crushes.” If both friends list each other, Facebook Dating will notify them and begin a chat.
Facebook Dating became available to all American users 18 and older beginning Thursday. By the end of the year, they will be able to add their Instagram stories to their dating profiles. Experts said that looks like a bid to recapture younger users who have been fleeing the site.
“They’re really trying to appeal to that younger generation that they’ve really missed out on the last few years,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said. “If you look at Tinder and others that play in the space, there’s a significant way to monetize this, especially around advertising.”
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