Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday announced that the social media company was planning to start a dating service to play matchmaker for millions of people on the social network, Reuters reported.
“There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there is something to do here,” Zuckerberg told software developers at the company’s annual F8 conference.
It will be an opt-in feature and Facebook users will not be matched with their friends on the new service, and will not be able to see their friends’ profiles. “This is going to be for building real long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg added.
A prototype displayed at the conference showed a heart shape icon at the top-right corner of the Facebook app. If people have set up a dating profile, pressing the heart-shaped button will take people to their dating profile. Potential matches will be suggested based on dating preferences, things they have in common, and mutual friends.
The dating service will place emphasis on privacy, the Facebook founder claimed. His company has faced questions in recent months over its handling of personal information as the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light. On April 11, Zuckerberg testified before a committee of the United States Senate.
This move is likely to help ensure that users spend more time on the social media site. In January, Facebook said that time spent by users had fallen by about 50 million hours a day at the end of 2017.
After Zuckerberg made the announcement Facebook’s shares closed up 1.1%, but sparked a sell-off of the shares of established market leaders. The shares of Match Group, the owner of dating app Tinder, fell more than 22%. The shares of IAC, which is Match Group’s parent company, dropped more than 17%. The shares of Sparks Networks, owner of dating services JDate and ChristianMingle, fell 7.3% before recovering and closing up 0.8%.
Deleting browsing history
Addressing privacy concerns, Zuckerberg said that the company was working on a feature that would allow users to clear their browsing data from the website, and prevent it from keeping tabs on the links that they click on. The company collects this data for a number of reasons, but the most important is to target users with ads.
Zuckerberg said that this was an example of the kind of control users should have and something that privacy advocates had been asking for. “To be clear, when you clear your cookies in your browser, it can make parts of your experience worse,” he added. “You may have to sign back in to every website, and you may have to reconfigure things. The same will be true here. Your Facebook will not be as good while it relearns your preferences.”