After being rocked by scandals over the misuse of user data, Facebook has a new feature it hopes will win back the hearts of its 2.2 billion users.
Announced at a company developer conference in Silicon Valley, Facebook's new dating feature is making waves in the dating scene, even causing stock of some dating platforms to plummet.
The feature will be designed for smartphone use, likely in its own app. But don't expect Facebook Dating to match you with a swipe left or right function like in Tinder. Judging by the demo shown at the conference, the app is more about scrolling through potential matches.
"This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships – not just for hookups," said Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg reiterating Facebook's community-focused claims to be intended for meaningful connections.
"We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning," he added, addressing the recent privacy breaches at Facebook which saw him face difficult questions from US Congress.
But how will Facebook know not to match you with a colleague or even a family member? For starters, you won't be suggested to anyone you are already connected with on Facebook.
"Your friends aren't going to see your profile, and you're only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends," Zuckerberg said.
The new feature is opt-in which means that you have to actively choose to be shown in the feature.
Facebook has not released further details on how the app will work, but it said popular features like events, groups and messaging would be incorporated into the dating app.
The latest feature is also a nod to the origins of the company. When Facebook launched in 2004 it invited users to display their relationship status in their profiles, many people selected "single" or "married", or even "it's complicated".
As the network grew, the inclusion of such information became less standard, but Zuckerberg says that 200,000 users still list themselves as "single" – and that this figure was already enough demand to warrant the innovation.
Facebook has already caused a stir on the stock market with its romantic ambitions – the announcement saw the value of shares of online dating Match group – that owns Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com – drop by a fifth.
Time will tell whether users will trust Facebook to manage the most intimate of their online activities: looking for love. — dpa