On Thursday, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Dating in the United States. This service allows users to find love without having to leave the app where your enraged uncle continues to post recycled memes about “Crooked Hillary.”
The function was first revealed in 2018, and as of Thursday, it was available in 20 countries.
The day after news of a significant data breach, most businesses will consider it bad timing to introduce a feature that allows users to control their love lives. However, Facebook is rarely a good time, which is constantly resetting its “Days Without a Humiliating Privacy Failure” counter.
Yeah, you deserve a lifetime of love and happiness, and yes, there’s an excellent case to be made that Facebook knows more about you than any competing dating service. Even if Facebook’s algorithms are capable of moving quickly and breaking your dry spell, entrusting your love life to the company feels like a tragedy waiting to happen.
This can seem unkind. After all, Facebook Dating is framed as charitable by the company. “Right now, it’s a project that makes me very happy. On Thursday, Nathan Sharp, one of Facebook’s product managers, told reporters, “It’s about connecting people.” “Advertising and subscriptions are not on the table.”
What does this mean for Facebook? Apart from “just connecting people,” a cynical analyst might note that Dating is also a clever backdoor for Facebook to do some mingling of its own.
In particular, to assist in the merger and integration of its legacy product with Instagram, which it purchased in 2012. Unlike Facebook, the dating app allows users to add Instagram images and (coming soon) Instagram Stories to their profiles. Additionally, daters will be able to add their Instagram followers to a widget named “Secret Crush,” which will warn you if your crush adds you to his or her crush list.
Any of the most confidential personal information we want to share can be found on dating apps (locations, interests, pictures, career history, and all of our tastes and individual preferences). It all adds up over time. In 2017, a French journalist used European Union privacy laws to request her Tinder details, and she received 800 pages of what she described as “a trip into my dreams, fears, sexual desires, and deepest secrets.”
Many older dating apps aren’t much better in terms of privacy and protection. However, given Facebook’s history of data breaches (unauthorized acquisition of data that violates the security, confidentiality, or credibility of personal information retained by a data collector), protecting your romantic secrets appears to be a job that Facebook isn’t up to.
For which you are completely unqualified.
As a result, the company wrote a blog post assuring users that dating profiles will be mostly different from standard Facebook profiles (only the user’s first name and age would automatically populate in a dating profile; the user must insert the rest) and that details will be secure and opt-in. “Not everyone on Facebook is interested in dating, which is why we created a different, opt-in experience for Facebook Dating,” according to the blog post.
“This means that unless you expressly request it, we will not build a Facebook Dating profile for your account.”
What a generous guy!
Those guarantees are insufficient in light of the firm’s recent past. Facebook has been chastised for the following since 2017:
According to a study published by TechCrunch on Wednesday, an “exposed server” “held more than 419 million records across multiple databases on users across geographies, including 133 million records on U.S.-based Facebook users, 18 million records on users in the United Kingdom, and another with more than 50 million records on users in Vietnam.”
A security vulnerability in its platform could have revealed the public and private images of up to 6.8 million users to developers.
Last September, a related bug revealed the personal details of up to 30 million users.
After May 2016, the company has “unintentionally posted” the 1.5 million new Facebook users’ email addresses.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which data from tens of millions of users was misappropriated and shared for profiling some automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects, in particular, to analyze or predict aspects concerning that person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, and racial or ethnic origin.
The Federal Trade Commission, the United States’ central consumer protection agency, collected complaints against businesses, corporate practices, and identity fraud under the F.T.C. Act and other statutes, resulting in a record $5 billion fine. Section 5 of the F.T.C.
Checkout: How Private Is Your Online Dating Data?
Act, which bans unfair and misleading trade practices, is where the agency takes action.
Will you put your dating profile, biography, and all of your personal information in the hands of a corporation that, according to the F.T.C. chairman, has “failed to live up to its commitments” to “establish a fair program to protect privacy” over the last seven years?
A lot of people can! Despite Facebook’s frequent privacy failures, billions of people continue to log in and deposit personal information. That does not, however, indicate that it is a good idea. Abstinence from using Facebook’s dating tool is a small but rewarding way to protest the blatant site for those who are fed up with it but can’t seem to avoid using it.
But don’t take it from me. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s C.E.O., said it best in a large font newspaper ad last year. He wrote, “We must protect your information.” “We don’t deserve it if we can’t.”