Facebook Online Dating Service

Facebook Online Dating Service: In the US, Facebook has unveiled the latest dating app. Sounds safe, huh?

Facebook Online Dating Service

On Thursday, Facebook revealed that it is rolling out its newest service across the US, a dating app. What could’ve gone wrong? A great deal, it turns out.

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In the Facebook app, a new service, Facebook Dating, can be accessed but allows users to create a different profile unique to dating. It then connects users based on location, indicated interests, events attended, groups, and other factors with potential matches.

Facebook Dating interacts with Instagram and includes a feature called Secret Crush, allowing users to compile a list of friends who they are interested in and match if they are listed by the crush.

Within the dating service, Facebook has promoted new privacy and security features, including the ability of users to share plans and locations with selected friends while going on a date and allowing users to conceal dating profiles from friends’ friends to avoid sharing personal details such as sexual orientation.

Some, however, are dubious that a business mired by multiple privacy controversies should be tasked with helping users find love on a private journey.

Jason Kelley, a digital strategist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s online privacy nonprofit, said, “If you’re trying to avoid dating services that have red flags, you can’t find one that has more red flags than Facebook,” “They have a terrible track record of keeping user data safe.”

The social media giant throws up ‘red flags’ in the dating world.

Can it be entrusted with safeguarding the name of your secret crush if Facebook can’t be trusted with your phone number? The pundits say no.

The news of Facebook Dating comes days after the company admitted to revealing more than 419 million online user IDs and phone numbers. A glitch in June 2018 rendered 14 million users’ private posts public, and another leak compromised 50 million users’ data in September 2018.

It was disclosed in a separate controversy in 2018 that the company illegally collected the data of millions of users through a collaboration with the Cambridge Analytica campaign firm.

Kelley said that the infringement of Facebook’s phone number underlies a relative inability to assess if privacy issues have been addressed effectively. Following the Cambridge Analytica privacy debacle, the numbers revealed were amassed using a Facebook tool disabled in April 2018.

Facebook says the dating service is secure, but how do we know it won’t realize a few years from now, it was not as protected as it thought?” said Kelley. “It gives us pause when things they changed years ago are still being shown to cause problems in terms of data privacy.”

Concerns about the use of dating information for advertising

In view of their history of using personal data to target users with ads on everything from mental health services to suicidal people to baby goods for pregnant people, privacy advocates are worried about Facebook entering the dating space and collecting more information about users.

Based on what kinds of people users want, who they match, and even how dates go, Kelley said, the company can create more sophisticated ad profiles.

Facebook says the dating profiles of users would be independent of their activity on Facebook and not used for ad targeting. But, said Mark Weinstein, a privacy advocate and founder of the social network MeWe, Facebook’s track record casts doubt on such promises.

“After so many years of countless privacy infractions, apologies, fines, and pledges to do better, does anyone believe a promise Facebook makes regarding data privacy?” he said. “Facebook will use Facebook Dating as a new portal into users’ lives; collecting, targeting, and selling dating history, romantic preferences, emotions, sexual interests, fetishes, everything.”

Millions more have opened up to scams online.

When the internet is more fraud-rigorous than ever, Facebook joins the online dating room. More than 21,000 romance scams, up from 8,500 in 2015, were reported to the FTC in 2018. A median loss of $2,600 or a total loss of $143m in 2018 was recorded by individuals targeted by these scams. Facebook could potentially expose millions of people to fraud, with an estimated 221 million US users.

“If a service exists, people are going to find a way to use it for some scam,” Kelley said. “It would be unsurprising, given how much data is available on users, it would be used for scams.”

In order to stop scams, the social media giant is now taking action to prevent fraud, rendering users unable to send links, images, or payments in Facebook messages.

But with the amount of privacy, protection, and scam issues, privacy advocates say users on other apps or IRL are probably better off meeting potential love interests.

“You would have to be pretty desperate with all of its history of privacy scandals to give Facebook any more insight into your life than you already have,” Kelley said.

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