Still grappling with the fallout from a data privacy scandal, Facebook Inc. has unveiled a new feature it hopes will encourage users to share their most intimate personal details on the social-media platform – dating.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook’s annual developers conference in downtown San Jose, Calif., that the social-media giant will launch a service that will allow users to create separate dating profiles.
The feature, which doesn’t yet have a launch date, would also match users to local events and groups with similar interests and allow them to “unlock” their dating profile to chat with others on Facebook’s messaging service, Messenger.
More than 200 million Facebook users list their relationship status as “single,” and Mr. Zuckerberg said several users had thanked him personally for helping them find love on Facebook. “This is going to be for building real long-term relationships, not hook-ups,” he said.
The move comes as the Silicon Valley giant seeks to shift attention away from a continuing controversy over its data-collection practices after revelations in mid-March that Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan had sold data on as many as 87 million Facebook users to a political consulting firm working for Donald Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Mr. Zuckerberg previewed several new features he said were targeted at increasing privacy and combatting fake news and hate speech, including a new “clear history” button. The feature will allow users to delete their activity, such as their interactions with apps and advertisers who track users’ online activity outside of the Facebook platform – similar to how internet browsers allow users to erase their online search history.
The company also said it is looking to allow users to vote on comments that appear on Facebook posts, a move Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, said would “improve the quality of public conversation.”
But even as Mr. Zuckerberg walked through many of Facebook’s recent privacy and security updates, he signalled to app developers that the company is still aggressively pushing ahead with new products, such as its dating service, that are aimed at harnessing Facebook’s vast user base to take on smaller competitors.
Investors in competing online matchmaking sites reacted swiftly to news of Facebook’s planned dating service.