Op-Ed: All’s fair in love and privacy wars

Posted May 1, 2018 by Jack Derricourt
As reports from the first quarter have shown, Facebook hasn’t lost any steam from its recent Cambridge Analytica debacle.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at a Senate hearing  defending the social media g...
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at a Senate hearing, defending the social media giant against pressure for more regulation after massive leaks of users' personal data
And now things are getting steamier still as Mark Zuckerberg announced at today’s F8 conference that the social media giant is wading into the online dating world.
Citing 200 million single Facebook users, the company’s recognizably pale CEO made a case for the new service as part of the social network, and also differentiated the new service from ‘hookup’ apps like Tinder. “This is going to be for building real long-term relationships,” said Zuckerberg, “not just for hookups.”
The service will be discretely tucked away within Facebook itself, a playful companion to the platform’s new ‘clear history’ feature born out of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. You’ll be able to delete some of Facebook’s masses of data on you while you also search for a date.
The tone with which the two announcements went out today couldn’t be more different. One attempts to allay the massive reduction in trust towards the platform on the same day that U.K. MPs once again demanded Zuckerberg brief the British government about Cambridge Analytica. And the other? Well, it asks you to simply trust the platform with your intimate, loving details. The kind of information that can win over that special someone and data privacy should go together hand-in-hand, not writhe uncomfortably together on the floor of F8.
From privacy scares to dating service
Is this a healthy move to be made by a social media company that has decided it doesn’t do that whole media thing very well? A trail of angry publishers have been left in Zuckerberg’s wake, following the blowback from the fake news 2016 election. And the backlash towards fake news and Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to target influencing articles shows that readers on the social media platform are not happy with the outcome either. Couldn’t a similar bad taste be left in people’s mouths following this new foray into the dating world?
Well, healthy has nothing to do with it. This move has likely been in the works for months, and there’s no stopping it now.
So, will Facebook users — and even non-Facebook users interested in finding a partner — now get on board with the social media giant’s take on dating?
Heart palpitations for Match Group
The market certainly thinks so. Match Group, the company that owns Tinder, OkCupid and tanked following the news from Facebook. So as far as investors are concerned, just as the privacy scandal showed little effect on Facebook’s earnings, the recent troubles for the company will do little to slow its success in the dating game.
Also of interest is the fact that Facebook’s move coincides with the loss of Craigslist personals. Time will tell if the same kind of crowd that collected in those boards, searching for actual relationships, will port their romantic interests over to the social network.