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Facebook’s attempt to win back our trust: one match at a time

By Audrey Popa

Oct 10, 2018

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I remember when I first heard of Facebook, I was in elementary school and not old enough to use it. A few years later, I made an account (while still underaged) and haven’t looked back. Since then, Facebook has virtually grown and contorted itself in my life in ways I could have never dreamed of. When I was younger, it was my generation’s tool for chatting and socialising, now it is my way of video-chatting my grandmother in Eastern Europe and finding new music events near me. It is only natural then, that as an extension of its product line, it is now looking at entering the online dating community as well.

So what can we expect? Since the announcement of the company’s new business initiative (which arrived amidst the peak of the now infamous Cambridge Analytica PR scandal in May), the product has been tested internally within its employees and has recently been launched in Columbia for live testing. The day of the announcement, Match Group Inc’s (Tinder) share price dropped 22 percent. The appeal for Facebook is easy to understand as the online dating world is a three billion dollar industry, increasing at a rate of around five percent a year according to a report by IBISWorld.

Facebook claims you’ll be matched with people not based necessarily on an endless list of singles near your, but rather by intensive algorithms based on people with similar interests, similar friends groups, even those attending similar events. The question of formulating “love” has been a discussion point for the last decade, but if anyone could tackle it, it would be Facebook. When debuting the app add-on Zuckerberg announced that it is not for hookups, but for long-term relationships and if all goes as planned, we’ll be able to first-hand witness a company, with millions of data points, and a possible pool of 2 billion users take on the search for love.

As scary as that concept was, and still is to some of us, it gives the company a potential to essentially help us match with better people than we could find ourselves, as this type algorithm-based dating helps eliminate personal biases (if we don’t learn how to beat it). Signing up for Tinder or Bumble, you willingly give up your data in exchange for meeting a potential partner, but with Facebook having already been collecting our data points for a handful of years, there is something about the add-on that makes me foolishly more comfortable with the idea. Maybe it’s because Facebook has been such an integral part of my youth and upbringing, but at least I’m willing to recognise and admit to the silliness of that. Facebook is also typically an authorisation point for many of the existing online dating applications, so with this new move, it is simply cutting out the middleman by creating its own platform.

The main problem is that many of us are still bruised and feeling extremely untrusting towards Facebook amidst the past several years of security breaches, court battles and scandals. Are we ready to trust again, and this time around with our love life?