Facebook has unveiled its new dating service, which has already led to concerns over privacy.
Facebook Dating is accessible via the platform’s app and will link users with potential matches based on location, indicated preferences, events attended, groups and various other factors.
Although Facebook Dating is part of the main app, those wishing to find love on the platform will have to create a separate dating-specific profile. The new service will also integrate with Instagram, allowing users to add their Instagram content to the standalone profile.
The dating app will allow users to discover if they have any secret admirers among their friends via its Secret Crush feature. It allows users to choose up to nine Facebook friends or instagram followers who they like more than just friends to add to their secret crush list.
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If the secret crush also lists that person, then both parties will be notified. However, if they have not listed them or are not using Facebook Dating, the crush will remain a secret.
Facebook is strongly promoting the service’s new privacy and security features, which includes a function that allows users to share plans and location with select friends when going on a date. It also allows users to hide dating profiles from friends of friends to avoid revealing sensitive information such as sexual orientation.
The launch of Facebook Dating follows days after the social media giant admitted to exposing 419 million user IDs and phone number online. A month earlier, the company was fined a record $5 billion over its privacy lapses.
In June 2018, a glitch saw the private posts of 14m users made public, and in another breach in September 2018 the data of 50m Facebook users was compromised.
Last year, the company was exposed for improperly scrapping millions of its users data through a scandalous partnership with disgraced company Cambridge Analytica.
Security experts are concerned over how safe the new service really is. “If you’re trying to avoid dating services that have red flags, you can’t really find one that has more red flags than Facebook,” Jason Kelley, a digital strategist at online privacy non-profit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said. “They have a terrible track record of keeping user data safe.”
Privacy advocates have voiced concerns over Facebook’s foray into online dating due to its dismal track record of harvesting users’ personal data to generate targeted advertisements.
Mark Weinstein, a privacy advocate and founder of social network MeWe, said: “After so many years of countless privacy infractions, apologies, fines and pledges to do better, does anyone really believe a promise Facebook makes in regard to data privacy?
“Facebook will use Facebook Dating as a new portal into users’ lives; collecting, targeting, and selling dating history, romantic preferences, emotions, sexual interests, fetishes, everything.”