The social network has plans to help unlock its users' hearts and help them find long-term relationships, "not just hookups." CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the optional dating feature was built around privacy concerns.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that the social network will play the role of online matchmaker by offering its users a dating service.
Zuckerberg presented the news at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California. He said the dating service would be a natural fit for the company whose stated mission is to bring the world closer together, but which has recently been engulfed by data privacy scandals.
"There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there's something to do here," Zuckerberg said, referring to the relationship status information that users can voluntarily provide in their Facebook account.
The CEO added that the optional dating feature will be aimed at "building real, long-term relationships, not just hookups."
Chris Cox, Facebook's chief product officer, said in a separate presentation that the social network had been mulling a dating feature for over a decade, but only seriously began considering it in 2016,when Zuckerberg posted a photo on his Facebook page of a couple who had met through the network.
Finding love on Facebook
Screenshots at the F8 conference showed a heart-shaped icon at the top-right corner of the Facebook app. The icon will link to a user's dating profile, if they have set one up.
The feature will recommend potential matches based on dating preferences, common interests and mutual friends. It will also allow a user to browse event attendees and send them messages.
It was unclear when the product would be launched and whether it would be available on the web platform. The conference press release said more information would be available when the feature "begins testing later this year."
However, the company seems to have weathered the critical firestorm in the short-term. It recently announced a significant revenue boost for the first quarter of 2018.
Tinder takes a tumble
Shares of established online dating site operators tumbled after Facebook's announcement. Match Group Inc., which owns the popular dating app Tinder, fell more than 18 percent. Tinder itself connects to Facebook and accesses user data to connect would-be partners to one another.
The dating service was not the only innovation to be announced Tuesday at the California conference. Facebook also said they would also introduce a feature that will allow users to see and delete their Facebook browsing history, as well as an instant language translation service for its Messenger app.
cmb/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP)