How do you overcome the biggest controversy in your company’s history, and win back increasingly sceptical users?
Launch many shiny new things.
That appears to be Facebook’s strategy, with a raft of new features and tools being annual at its F8 developer conference, among them being a new use for Facebook – Facebook Dating.
Announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his keynote, Facebook will soon roll out a new dating option on their platform which is, according to Zuckerberg, aimed at “building real, long-term relationships — not just for hook-ups.”
Facebook Dating will exist within the main Facebook app, but in a wholly separate element, so your friends won’t see that you’re using it, and you won’t be mixing up your everyday Messenger threads with dating interactions.
Zuckerberg also underlined that Facebook will be taking extra measures to ensure user privacy:
“We’ve 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.”
As you can see from the screenshots, Facebook Dating will be a totally defined experience, separate from Facebook itself – even the layout in the main image looks distinct from your regular News Feed. The option will also include similar features to other dating apps, which will no doubt raise concerns as to what Facebook – with its 2.2 billion monthly active users – will do to their usage rates once it’s rolled out.
Indeed, shares in Match Group, which owns Match.com, Tinder and OKCupid, fell 20% immediately following Zuckerberg’s announcement. Understandably, the market’s a little shaky on what Facebook’s entry into the online dating space might mean, but the size of the drop also underlines Facebook’s potential, especially given what we already know about the depth of Facebook’s data matching.
Definitely, given Facebook’s vast data banks, it has the capacity to facilitate highly accurate matches, based on mutual interests, personality types, family history – and any number of expanded correlations. Such measures were actually identified in a patent filed by Facebook relating to potential dating usage, which was filed back in 2013. The question now, however, will be how comfortable people feel being connected based on such insights. Facebook’s already under more scrutiny over its data collection, though the controversy does appear to be dying down – while it’s also seemingly had no impact on platform usage, despite the negative blowback.
If users aren’t concerned about how their data is used to find potential partner matches, then Facebook could absolutely change the game in online dating, using their unmatched dataset to find commonalities based on people who are already married, then overlaying those findings onto the profiles of participating singles. Facebook data can reveal almost everything about your personality and psychological leanings – if The Social Network can harness that effectively, it could become the ultimate relationship finding tool.
But given this, it is interesting to see Facebook roll out such a tool now, in the midst of such queries. That may be why Facebook has only previewed the tool, with a launch date to come later in the year. When the controversy dies down, maybe? When Facebook can reveal the full extent to which they can provide accurate matches?
Either way, it’s another interesting move from Zuck and Co, which will see them move to dominate yet another aspect of online engagement.