Facebook Announce New Dating Features during F8 Conference Keynote

Taking to the stage in San Jose, California for the F8 Facebook Developer Conference on May 1st, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced during his keynote speech that Facebook will be delving into the world of dating with new features designed for “building real, long-term relationships - not just for hook-ups.” The latter comment, which Zuckerberg delivered with a chuckle, appears to be a not-so-subtle swipe at long-established dating apps like Tinder, which has gained something of a negative reputation in many circles.

In a blog post summarising the first day of the F8 Conference, Facebook shed further light on how exactly the new feature will work, reiterating the explanation given on stage by Facebook product chief Chris Cox.

Facebook product chief Chris Cox addresses the audience at the F8 Conference   - Img: Facebook
“People already use Facebook to meet new people, and we want to make that experience better,” the post states, “People will be able to create a dating profile that is separate from their Facebook profile - and potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events. However, what people do within the dating feature will not be shown to their friends. We’ll share more information when this begins testing later this year.”

User privacy and of course the potential for embarrassment are always concerns with such features, especially on a site such as Facebook which contains much of our personal information and links to our social circles. Attempting to address this concern, Zuckerberg told the F8 audience, “We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends.”

The announcement is already having an impact upon established brands in the dating game such as Tinder and OkCupid, both owned by parent company Match Group. The Verge reports that as soon as Facebook’s plans were announced, Match Group’s stock dropped by 17%.

As is apparently the way with each and every new feature Facebook launch however, this one is not without its controversies. Some have questioned the company’s decision to allow individuals listed as ‘in a relationship’ or ‘married’ to use the dating feature as they fear it will promote extramarital relationships and messy break-ups. Others however point to the occurrence of open relationships and other non-monogamous forms of relationships and instead applaud Facebook for their inclusivity.

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