In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at F8 Conference. He announced something that you can, figuratively, call a rallying cry for the singles of the world. “Singles of the world, unite on Facebook and you shall find dates.” Well, he didn’t say that but he might have. Zuckerberg announced Facebook Dating, a new feature on the social media site that would supposedly change the way people date. Seven months later, most of the world is still waiting for that promised feature.
The year 2018 is coming to an end and as we take a leap into a brand new year, it is time to reflect on the promises that Facebook made and the ones that it didn’t keep this year. Admittedly, the list is long. But we are not here to jog the company’s conscience into caring about issues like transparency, data privacy and data security, on all of which Facebook had a tough time. We are here talking about a certain dating feature Facebook promised to deliver earlier this year.
Zuckerberg in May had announced that the social media giant was working on a new service that would enable strangers to date on its platform. The feature, as Zuckerberg had casually commented while taking a jibe on other popular dating apps had said, would be focused on “building real, long-term relationships — not just for hookups.”
Since then we have learnt some details of Facebook Dating. But the actual service is limited to just a handful of users. To give you a quick refresher course in working of Facebook Dating, you will have to explicitly opt into its service and have to be “single” and more than 18 years of age to be able to use it. Once you setup your dating profile, Facebook is supposed to use its algorithms and the data it has on you to show you relevant matches. To put it simply, if you are planning to date your crush, you would probably have to unfriend them first. As far as chatting is concerned, once it shows you a match, you will have to muster all your courage to send a messages to your match and only when he or she responds will you be able to chat regularly.
Notably, the feature was announced in May this year and months later in September, it was made available to the 30 million Facebook users in Colombia. Subsequently, its reach was expanded to Canada and Thailand in November. Interestingly, even seven months after its announcement, Dating for Facebook has not made its way into half of homes where the social media giant maintains a strong presence.
Granted, Facebook didn’t promise a world-wide rollout by the end of the year but what is surprising is that Facebook has neither rolled out the feature in its homeland that is the US nor its other prominent markets such as the UK, Mexico, India and Brazil.
One possible reason why the company is delaying the roll out of its dating service is because its focus, at the moment, is on mitigating the series of disasters that have stuck its platform over the course of the year and put the public faith on the company at an all time low.
Right from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which in turn created ripples leading to investigations by governmental agencies across the globe, to the data breach that affected 50 million users globally to the bug that gave developers access to the un-posted photos of 6.8 million users to the platform’s role in the Rohingya genocide to spread of misinformation, Facebook has a lot on its plate right now and the situation has escalated to the point where the investors are asking Zuckerberg to abandon his chairmanship. Hence, it’s possible that Facebook’s “all-hands-on-deck” situation is leading to delays in its product launches.
When there is a war going on, with fire-fights on all fronts, love possibly has taken a backseat as far priorities inside Facebook are concerned
When there is a war going on, with fire-fights on all fronts, love possibly has taken a backseat as far priorities inside Facebook are concerned.
Another reason why Facebook Dating has been launched only in three countries is possibly because the company’s scandalous year may have made it extra cautious in rolling out a service that will make extensive use of the data it has on its users. The delay could be company’s way of looking for closing the potential loopholes and making sure that its platform is an impregnable fortress (at least to outsiders and the security experts who are on a constant lookout of fault in its services). It could also mean that it is also taking precautions and making sure that its service follows the law of the land.
As far as India is concerned, Facebook has had a troubled relationship with our country. If anything, slew of WhatsApp lynchings and consequently the demands made by the government, of setting up local entity that should be able to trace the location of the forwarded messages among other things, is a reason enough for the platform to tread carefully in the country. Granted that the service, by the virtue of ease of comfort and familiarity, is likely to be a hit among the Indian users but government isn’t being generous in trusting the company, which in the long run could prove to be a major hurdle for the company.
When will we get to use Dating for Facebook in India, we do not know. But it will be interesting to see if people ditch apps like Tinder, OkCupid and Happn to use Facebook Dating.