San José, United States — Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday the world’s largest social network will soon include a new dating feature — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Zuckerberg unveiled the plans as he addressed Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California — emphasizing that the focus would be on helping people find long-term partners.
“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg said in presenting the new feature, noting that one in three marriages in the United States start online — and that some 200 million Facebook users identify as being single.
Under the new feature, users will be able to create a separate “dating” profile not visible to their network of friends, with potential matches recommended based on dating preferences, points in common and mutual acquaintances.
It will be free of charge, in line with Facebook’s core offering. The announcement sent shares in the online dating giant Match.com tumbling, finishing the formal trading day down 22%.
The 33-year-old CEO also said the dating offer was built from the ground up with privacy and safety in mind, as he underscored the firm’s commitment to boosting privacy protections.
Facebook’s closely-watched developer conference comes as the giant faces intense global scrutiny over the mass harvesting of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy that worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Facebook has admitted up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked in the scandal, which saw Zuckerberg grilled at length by the US Congress last month.
“We need to make sure that never happens again,” Zuckerberg told the audience, lightening the talk by sharing that friends made on online streaming video watch party at the social network of his hours testifying before Congress. — AFP