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Facebook invites users to share “deeply personal” love lives, just weeks after paying $5 billion for privacy failures

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Facebook Dating

The Facebook Dating 'Secret Crush' feature. Source: Facebook.

Facebook has added another string to its ever-growing bow, launching the Facebook Dating app to compete with the likes of Tinder, Bumble and Happn.

Sure, it’s late to the game. Tinder has been modernising romance since 2012, and since then we have many, many variations of matchmaking tech.

Perhaps Facebook has had its day as a social media pioneer ⁠— it joined the cryptocurrency party just this year, some time after the hype had died down.

Facebook itself would, of course, disagree. The app is intended to help people “find meaningful relationships” through the things they have in common, is said in a media release. Things like interests, events, groups and even friends.

It allows people to integrate their Instagram posts directing into their dating profile, to give users “a more authentic look at who someone is”.

By the end of the year, users will also be able to add Instagram stories to their profiles.

The app doesn’t match people with direct friends. However, users can add people to a not-at-all-creepy ‘secret crush’ list.

If you put someone on your list, and they put you on theirs, then bam, soul mates.

“Facebook Dating isn’t about swiping or having to wait for someone to like you to get a first chance at reaching out,” the release said.

Instead, you can ‘like’ a suggested match or comment on their profile, and they can choose to either get in touch or pass.

Don’t worry, Facebook said it has designed the service to be “safe, inclusive and opt-in”. It only suggests potential partners who have also opted in.

“Safety, security and privacy are at the forefront of this product,” Facebook said.

“All of your dating activity will stay in Facebook Dating. It won’t be shared to the rest of Facebook.”

The release comes just six weeks after Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), agreeing to pay a $5 billion penalty for violating user privacy — the biggest-ever fine for this kind of case, more than 200 times larger than any that has come before.

Facebook also agreed to implement a new privacy structure and to create new tools allowing the FTC to monitor the platform.

It may have new measures in place, but Facebook itself admits people’s dating lives are “deeply personal”.

The social media giant has reportedly been working on its dating offering for years, so a cynic could say the claim that personal privacy is built-in is somewhat dubious.

Indeed, just this week TechCrunch reported the usernames and associated phone numbers of 419 million Facebook users have been exposed on a server that was not password-protected.

Is this the platform anyone should be trusting with their love life? Really?

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].