Senior TechCrunch Reporter Natasha Lomas has posted seven reasons users should not trust Facebook Dating, the arrival of which she refers to as “a veteran social network desperately seek[ing] a new strategy to stay relevant”.
First, it is argued that the move to dating represents a “data grab”. Facebook’s revenue depends on its ability to help advertisers convert, and it will need to break even on the introduction of the new platform somehow.
Claims that Facebook will keep the data acquired through its dating service separate should be treated with caution, Lomas suggests, as the company has a history of questionable practices in this area.
One example given is the past changing of default settings from ‘private’ to ‘public’ – something that moved regulators to intervene. Another is the ability of apps to access ‘friend data’ – a feature which helped third parties bypass permissions to gather information on certain users.
The piece goes on to argue that online dating is a brilliantly diverse space, with hundreds of niche players and innovative business models. Would it really be of benefit for consumers for a FANG company to steamroll in and dominate the vertical?
Fourth, the case is made that algorithms are not yet sophisticated enough to help with compatibility matching. Instead, Facebook’s claim to offer singles curated picks is a combination of marketing speak and innuendo for further surveillance.
Fifth, the company should be focusing its efforts elsewhere, trying to deal with some of the major ethical concerns that have arisen from abuses of its functionality. Authoritarian regimes around the world have “weaponized” social media to exert further control over their citizenry, and having dating as a major announcement in light of this seems frivolous.
Sixth, the main platform and dating platform will inevitably overlap more than Facebook are letting on. It will likely be easy for someone to search for the profile of one of their crushes, for example, particularly as Dating users will be forced to use their own name in sign up.
Finally, it’s not clear to the author who is going to make up the user base. Under-35s are moving away from Facebook, so Zuckerberg could be left with “middle-age divorcees”.
Read more here.