With Facebook’s announcement of new dating features at this year’s F8, two things are clear - privacy is still a very real issue and Mark Zuckerberg really doesn’t get dating…
In the next stop of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica apology tour, CEO Mark Zuckerberg walked out to a big crowd at its annual F8 developers' conference and announced a bunch of new features without saying “sorry.”
One of which surrounds the art of dating. With 200 million people on Facebook listing themselves as single, he believes the social network can take on the likes of OKCupid (not Tinder - I’ll explain why later) by adding an interface to meet people in a dating context.
The team plans to “mirror the way people meet in real life - through experiences they have in common,” by letting you meet people in the same groups or attending the same events as yourself.
How does it work? Users will set up a profile on Facebook, separate of their full account so no dating activity shows up (no automated news feed posts). After this, they move on to pick groups and events they are already members of and “unlock” their dating profiles around these activities. After that, the service will begin throwing up matches based on “dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends,” as per a statement from the company.
This is similar to what the likes of Tinder do, but they aren't competing - regardless of what is being reported (unless they start removing data permissions for these apps)… As is already obvious, Facebook’s audience is getting older and the social network isn’t pulling in young people anymore. The network’s audience is set to lose nearly three million under 25s this year in the US, but they are set to gain almost three million over 35 (with the largest growth actually being over 65).
Plus it’s next-to-impossible for Facebook to really take younger audiences away from other dating apps like the aforementioned Tinder (just look at their relentless pursuit of Snapchat for example).
So through a dating service, they hope to get these users to spend more time on the app - making them more profitable to the company. Usage time had dropped by about 50 million hours a day by the end of 2017, and this is a far more important statistic for a social network’s financial viability.
But here’s the problem… On first impressions, from the over-simplified idea of a romantic connection to the awkwardly forced means of conversation, it’s kind of lame.
You would think that with the overwhelming amount of data, Facebook could afford to give you a better system that digs deep into that information and helps produce something closer to the “real relationships” Mark repeated over and over again on-stage. But instead, we get a rather simplistic, crude setup that assumes people forge real relationships based on either being in the same place together or in the same group.
Anybody in a “real relationship” (now I’m saying it way too much), knows that the aforementioned type of relationship transcends interests and location. The personality of oneself matters just as much (if not more), which I bet Facebook could probably create an accurate profile of with years of data - your level of self-confidence from language use in posts, their previous dating history (length of relationships and with who), etc.
It sucks they don’t go that far.
So, what am I trying to say here? Mark Zuckerberg started F8 by explaining the steps taken by the company to protect data privacy. These steps, on the main hand, are positive.
But dating is a whole different ballgame.
With a first name, occupation and location, it’s not hard for a particularly stalkerish type to find someone. I mean it’s even possible with less information present on the likes of Tinder and Bumble, so to add these two extra data points just makes it even easier - a flagrant contradiction to their supposedly tougher stance on data security, which is evidence for one of two statements.
- Facebook really don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to privacy.
- Facebook is actually not sorry for being all up in your privacy.
My money’s on the latter, but I’ll leave that up to you…
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.