Love is in the air at F8, the annual Facebook developers conference. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday, among other things, Secret Crush, an iteration of Facebook Dating, the mobile-only app that rolled out to a limited audience last year, much to the discomfort of Tinder, its parent company Match and other competitors in the crowded online dating market.
Secret Crush, like Facebook dating, is banking on the social circle, not to mention all that personal data its been collecting for years. Rather than swiping randos, Facebook Dating suggests connections based on logged likes and behavior. With Secret Crush, users now have the option of crushing on up to nine Facebook friends, whether those friends have Facebook Dating profiles are not. Those friends are notified that a mysterious someone likes them, and if that admiration is returned via the dating app, both parties are notified.
Whether Facebook Dating, with its Secret Crush option, poses a danger to the existing online dating market likely won’t be known until it reaches a larger market. As well as its original test countries, Canada, Colombia, Thailand, Canada, and Argentina, the augmented app is now available in 14 more countries in Asia and South America—but not Facebook’s 170 millionmonthly active users in the U.S.
That’s likely why Facebook’s new dating features haven’t yet threatened Tinder and its parent company, Match, which operates sites in 25 countries and also owns a majority stake in Hinge. Match stock [MTCH] fell 1.7%, trading at $60.40. And while many features of Match and Tinder are free, some users opt to pay for premium services. So far Facebook’s dating features will be free for users and will be available in the U.S. “within the year,” according to a company spokesperson.
Facebook’s scale may put it at some advantage, but the two companies will likely be able to coexist in the dating ecosystem.
“No matter what our competitors may do, or large internet platforms may announce, we have tens of millions of people all over the world who visit our brands every month,” Joey Levin, CEO of Match’s parent company, wrote in a letter to shareholders last year. “Facebook can give up and scrap their dating project anytime, but that’s not an option for us—it’s our life.”
And there’s something to be said for online anonymity.
During the first day of the two-day event, Zuckerberg announced that the company would be focusing on privacy. Which seems ironic now that it wants to be active in its user’s romantic lives.
“I get that a lot of people aren’t sure that we are serious about [privacy],” Zuckerberg said at F8. “We are committed to doing this well and to starting a new chapter for our products.”
Other announcement topics include:
Messenger—In addition to a desktop messenger app, friends can watch videos in real time together, through a group message.
Facebook Redesign—A new, more ‘immersive’ look and reimagined groups tab will be added.
Groups—New capabilities for specific types of groups, for instance, job groups will have templates for employers to post openings.
Marketplace—Paying for purchases and continental U.S. shipping will now be available directly through Facebook.
Instagram—Updates to Instagram include shopping from posts, a donation sticker for users to donate through the platform, and camera features with effects and interactive stickers.
Oculus Quest and Rift S—Facebook has opened pre-orders for new VR gaming system Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S.
Spark AR—The interactive AR platform will now support both Windows and Mac and will include new features for creation and collaboration.
Portal—The video chat device will now be available internationally, include voice command and messaging functions and allow users to integrate photos from their Instagram feed.
–Monica Melton; ForbesStaff
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