Mobile Internet

Facebook’s Answer to Tinder: Dating App to take even more Personal Data

Facebook launched its online dating service for the United States on Thursday, a move taking on rivals such as smartphone app Tinder. The free “Facebook Dating” site which was announced last year is already available in other countries. It will seek to facilitate connections among the more than two billion users of the social network worldwide.

The new service, Facebook Dating, can be accessed in the Facebook app but requires users to create a separate dating-specific profile. It then links users with potential matches based on location, indicated preferences, events attended, groups, and other factors. Facebook Dating will integrate with Instagram and offer a feature called Secret Crush, which allows users to compile a list of friends they have an interest in, to be matched with if the crush lists them as well.

The Secret Crush feature was first announced in April 2018 at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, revealing how it leverages users’ existing network of friends to connect them to secret admirers.

Facebook may have an advantage over rivals in that it can allow people to share profiles and images from their social media profiles. The dating service will be free to users, unlike some rivals which offer both free and paid plans.

After all the recent controversy surrounding Facebook, some “what if’s” are obvious! Thus Facebook is trying to make its latest app as separate and distinct as possible from its regular app. First and foremost, users must opt into the service, and then create an entirely distinct profile. However, Facebook Dating will gather even more information from Facebook users, information that will presumably be more intimate, up to date, and relevant to what people like and think.

Facebook launching new apps is not a big deal in itself, what is important is privacy issues related to it. Since 2018 Facebook has continued to be plagued by privacy scandals, and consequently, when it comes to anything remotely connected to Facebook, you are bound to get sceptic about the privacy policy.

A $5 billion Federal Trade Commission fine settled in July over privacy concerns, and a new antitrust investigation on-going, the question of whether Facebook is equipped to handle even more potentially far more intimate personal data is a big one.

Moreover, this week a security researcher discovered an unsecured database of 419 million phone numbers of Facebook users on the internet. Facebook’s phone number breach underlies a concerning inability to determine whether privacy concerns have been effectively resolved.

With its latest offering, Facebook will tap into a wildly lucrative market. Analysts estimate the market could be worth $12 billion by 2020, and Match Group, which owns nearly all of the most popular dating apps besides Bumble, pulled in $1.7 billion in revenue last year.

Facebook said that it would launch its dating service in Europe in early 2020. As far as India is concerned, there is no word on availability yet. However, with Facebook Dating hitting several Southeast Asian countries, the social media giant’s dating service should be available in India soon.

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