Back in May, Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook), had announced at the Facebook’s annual developers conference, F8, an online ‘Dating Service’ that would help people find relationships. And that announcement, while it sure got many excited, also got everyone talking, especially about the user privacy issue.
Anticipating this vein of discussion, Zuckerberg had stated during his speech
I know a lot of you are going to have questions about this. We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
Now, after all these months, as per Jane Manchun, the independent app researcher, the latest news on this front is that the social media giant is apparently testing its dating product with its employees internally, which means that it is actually working on test-runs of the service, keeping in mind the user information privacy.
Reportedly, Facebook has asked its employees to put up spurious data for the Facebook dating profile and intends to delete all data before officially launching the dating product. The employees have been informed about the anti-harassment policies introduced in the dating service. Zeroing on how to use the opt-in feature, apparently, there will be a sign-up page of the product with options to specify one’s gender, location, and most importantly, which gender one is interested in for finding matches.
Now, Wong was able to put in her information, but couldn’t successfully create a dating profile. Since Facebook had already announced the feature at the F8 event, a public rollout is expected if the testing brings positive results, but if the feature falls short during the testing, the company can take it down altogether. Facebook dating service will let the Facebook users create a dating profile, distinct from their usual Facebook profiles, and will start popping up potential match suggestions based on factors like dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. Not only this, the users will also have the option to discover potential matches sharing similar interests through their Groups or Events.
The screen of Facebook dating feature states:
This product is for US Facebook employees who have opted-in to dogfooding Facebook’s new dating product. The purpose of this dogfooding is to test the end-to-end product experience for bugs and confusing UI. This is not meant for dating your coworkers.
This will be a good test of whether Facebook can truly create a positive, privacy-aware service for its users.
With apps like Tinder that need a Facebook login to access the service, it’s common knowledge that the existing dating-app companies largely depend on the social media as it allows them to select Facebook data from fake profiles and thereby speed up the process of creating dating profiles. So, Facebook’s venture into dating is not so surprising after all, but, as stated by Debra Aho Williamson, (the principal analyst at research firm eMarkete) on the announcement at the F8 event, what remains to be seen is whether Facebook can maintain the transparency with respect to who can see the user data and how Facebook uses the data at hand.