Hey, singles — are you looking for love in all the wrong places? Maybe you need a forum with billions of potential matches, or at least hook-ups, where your dating habits will remain just between you and your paramours. Put your trust in the platform that, er, just got exposed for its lack of discipline over protection of user data and whose executives have spent the last few weeks dancing around the reality that its users are its product and that advertisers are its true customers.
You only need enter your most personal data, desires, choices, and communications. What could go wrong?
WATCH: Facebook unveils new online dating feature. pic.twitter.com/BeMzaBgbEq
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 1, 2018
The embattled social media company, under fire in recent months over data privacy worries, plans to launch a new dating feature, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday.
But this feature is “not just for hookups,” Zuckerberg said to laughs at the annual F8 developer conference on Tuesday. He wants the tool to help users build “meaningful, long-term relationships.”
Zuckerberg also nodded to the safety fears that have plagued the company since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, insisting his team had “designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.”
“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. Tinder, a popular dating app, makes a similar pledge to its users.
How much can people on the dating scene trust Facebook to handle that correctly? Perhaps we should look at another venture that the platform wants to roll out — a new mechanism to flag “hate speech.” That got off to the kind of start you’d expect:
Facebook accidentally set a “hate speech” button live on its platform for a short period of time, a company spokesperson confirmed in a statement Tuesday. The button asked users: “Does this contain hate speech?”
The spokesperson said the company was conducting an “internal test” in an attempt to understand “different types of speech, including speech we thought would not be hate.” They said a bug caused the button to launch publicly but it has since been disabled.
Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen explained on Twitter that the button was shown on posts regardless of their content but was “reverted” within 20 minutes.
On first reading this story, I first thought that it must have been an April Fool’s Day joke that fired off on the wrong date. While the potential for dating apps has long existed on Facebook — and single users no doubt have already adapted their dating life to it — who in their right mind thinks that now is a good time to trust the platform with data that personal? One has to wonder whether it’s a good idea to encourage reproduction among people that naive. Or maybe, as a former Facebook engineer argues, they’re just “insufficiently loved” enough to know better:
The move was hailed by Justin Rosenstein, the former Facebook engineer who created the Like button. He said the idea was “beneficial for the world.”
“I have a theory that a lot of war and bad things going on are all actually the result of people being insufficiently loved,” Rosenstein told NBC News.
If you are tempted to use it, though, perhaps consider how Facebook will have to generate revenue from this product. Also consider how that has impacted other users connected to other apps by the most indirect links possible. And then, if you still choose to jump into the data pool … caveat emptor. But when things go wrong — and they will — please don’t come running to Congress to demand more speech regulations and media outrage. At some point, you gotta live with what you marry.