Facebook Plunges into Dating App Market

Facebook Plunges into Dating App Market

FB is set to release its own dating app dedicated to building real ‘long-term relationships – not just hookups.’

Facebook has announced the unveiling of its own dating app with founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailing it as a tool to build “long-term relationships – not just hookups.”

Many view the new app as a potential rival to Tinder, yet Match Group, owner of the latter application along with Match.com, claimed it was not worried by the competition and the move by Facebook may “destigmatize” the online dating scene.

“We want Facebook to be somewhere where you can start meaningful relationships,” Zuckerberg said upon announcing the launch of the app in April. “We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.”

Following recent scandals over user privacy, Chris Cox, the Chief Product Officer, said the dating feature would be “opt-in” and “safe” and that the company “took advantage of the unique properties of the platform.”

Facebook dating profiles will be separate from an individual’s regular profile and accessed in a different section of the site. They will use only a first name and only be visible to those using the service, not an individual’s Facebook friends, nor will activity on the app show up in the user’s news feed.

Users of the feature can browse and “unlock” local events and message others planning to attend. If a potential date responds, the two can then connect via a text messaging feature that is not connected to WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

“We like this by the way because it mirrors the way people actually date, which is usually at events and institutions they’re connected to,” Cox said at the official unveiling of the app. “We hope this will help more folks meet and hopefully find partners.”

Many have pointed to key similarities between the Facebook app and Tinder. Shares of Match, which also owns OkCupid, fell by 21 percent after Zuckerberg announced the new feature.

Nevertheless, Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Match Group, told the BBC: “We don’t think Facebook will have any impact on Tinder, which is our growth engine.”

Facebook’s entry into the marketplace may boost user numbers overall as more people got comfortable with the idea of dating sites and apps, she added.

Tinder has dominated the millennial market, with Match reporting that 3.5m people paid for the freemium app in the first quarter of 2018. But a new set of start-ups has imitated the app’s so-called “swipe culture”, referring to the quick dismissal of dates by their photo alone.

Newer alternatives include Bumble, which ensures women make the first move; The League, which shows fewer matches at a time, or Hinge, which tries to give people more context.

Brandon Ross, an analyst at BTIG who covers Match Group, told The Financial Times that Facebook’s move took investors by surprise.

“One of the reasons [Match Group stock] traded at the multiple it did was it was one of the few places for TMT investors that you said, OK, these guys aren’t really at risk of FANG [Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google] disruption,” he said.

2018-05-21T22:51:51+00:00

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Paul Imison
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