Mark Zuckerberg addresses Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California. (Reuters: Stephen Lam)
Facebook plans to add a dating service, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says, marking the first time the world’s largest social media network has actively tried to help people form romantic relationships.
- Mark Zuckerberg says dating service “not just for hook-ups”
- There are 200 million single people on Facebook
- Facebook chief also announces a new “clear history” privacy control
Mr Zuckerberg told software developers at Facebook’s annual F8 conference that a dating service would be a natural fit for a company that specialises in connecting people online.
“There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there’s something to do here,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
The feature would be for finding long-term relationships, “not just hook-ups”, he said.
It will be optional and will launch soon, he added, without giving a specific day.
The dating service is being built with privacy in mind, so that friends will not be able to see a person’s dating profile, Mr Zuckerberg said.
Concerns about Facebook’s handling of privacy have grown since the social network’s admission in March that the data of millions of users was wrongly harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
New ‘clear history’ feature coming
Mr Zuckerberg also said Facebook was building a new privacy control called “clear history” to allow users to delete browsing history.
“This feature will enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward,” the company said in a separate blog post.
Mr Zuckerberg compared the new tool to the option of clearing cookies in a browser, which he said can make parts of the user experience worse as users may have to reconfigure things.
Facebook said it would take a few months to build the update, adding the company would work with privacy advocates, academics, policymakers and regulators to get their input on the new approach.
Tech companies are under intense scrutiny about how they protect customer data after Facebook was embroiled in a huge scandal where millions of users’ data was improperly accessed by a political consultancy.
“One thing I learned from my experience testifying in Congress is that I didn’t have clear enough answers to some of the questions about data,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote.