Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that the world’s largest social network will soon include a new dating feature.
The site also vowed to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that sent its shares plummeting.
Zuckerberg unveiled the plans as he addressed Facebook’s annual developers conference in San Jose, California — emphasizing that the focus would be on helping people find long-term partners.
“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not just hook-ups,” Zuckerberg said in presenting the new feature, noting that one in three marriages in the United States start online — and that some 200 million Facebook users identify as being single.
Under the new feature, users will be able to create a separate “dating” profile not visible to their network of friends, with potential matches recommended based on dating preferences, points in common, and mutual acquaintances.
Zuckerberg however did not specify whether the feature would be free of charge, in line with Facebook’s core offer.
The announcement was enough to send shares in the online dating giant Match.com tumbling by 17 percent, with Zuckerberg adding that the dating offer was built from the ground-up with privacy and safety in mind.
On the mass harvesting of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg said: “We need to make sure that never happens again.”
In a related move, Facebook Tuesday announced an upcoming feature called “Clear History” that will allow users to see which apps and websites send the network information, delete the data from their account, and prevent Facebook from storing it.
Furthermore, Facebook announced Tuesday that its popular Messenger app would soon be able to translate missives in real time, deploying artificial intelligence to enable text conversations between people using different languages.