Forbes Leaks Early Mark Zuckerberg Emails on Tinder’s Growth

New reporting in Forbes has leaked details of early internal communications at Facebook related to online dating.

The communications show that the social media giant may have had plans to enter the online dating industry over five years ago.

Employees Monika Bickert and Mike Vernal spoke about Tinder in 2013, with Vernal writing: “I know a bunch of people who think this app is really interesting / could be big”.

In January 2014, Mark Zuckerberg offered some thoughts. He wrote to two senior executives at his company: “Tinder’s growth is especially alarming to me because their product is built completely on Facebook data, and it’s much better than anything we’ve built for recommendations using the same corpus.” 

He rejected the idea of a meeting with Tinder Co-Founder Sean Rad, however, stating: “I don’t think he’s that relevant. He probably just wants to make sure we won’t turn off their API.”

Zuckerberg then said that he felt there would be no stigma attached to Facebook entering the dating space, adding: “I’d bet that more dates and relationships start on Facebook than all the other dating services combined.” 

Later documents show Facebook whitelisting Tinder’s access to user data, a privilege also extended to dating brands including Hinge, Bumble, Badoo and Coffee Meets Bagel. 

The emails were uncovered as part of a lawsuit against Facebook by controversial app developer Six4Three. Some 4,000 pages of internal documents were leaked to journalist Duncan Campbell in early 2019, of which 1,200 pages were marked as “highly confidential”.

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