Despite dismissing Tinder co-founder Sean Rad as irrelevant, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg allowed the dating app special access to user data, as revealed by leaked exchanges between the two executives. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered entering the online dating business as far back as 2014, but he put the idea on the back burner, instead giving Tinder special access to its users’ data.
Access to Facebook data helped Tinder thrive, but there came a point when it inched closer to losing that access, Forbes reported on Thursday.
Released this week, the leaked correspondence is part of a long-running lawsuit in California state court, between former Facebook app developer Six4three and Facebook.
The documents shed new light on Facebook’s deliberations to break into the multibillion dating market, a move that pummelled the shares of Match Group, owner of Tinder and Match.com, when Zuckerberg eventually launched Facebook Dating in September. The free service borrows elements of popular dating apps Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder with specialized features that take advantage of its 2.4 billion user network.
The correspondence also shows how perilously close Tinder came to losing key access to Facebook user information that helped Tinder grow rapidly in its early years when members often used their Facebook logins to access the app. When Facebook further restricted the kind of information third-party apps could access after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018, Tinder’s app crashed.
The documents running into nearly 7,000 pages were leaked to Duncan Campbell in February 2019 but published on Wednesday. According to Campbell’s website, he is an investigative journalist and a forensic expert based in Ireland.
Despite giving Tinder preferential treatment, Zuckerberg rejected the suggestion he met with Rad, explaining, “I don’t think he’s that relevant. He probably just wants to make sure we won’t turn off their API.”
Facebook Dating was eventually launched in September with features similar to those in popular dating apps like Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder.
In 2014, Facebook, which is facing several antitrust investigations, announced a new set of rules to prevent third-party app developers from getting access to data on users’ friends. The social networking giant set May 2015 as the deadline for complying with the new rules. But some firms continued to have access to the crucial data, including Tinder.