Privacy Experts Warn About Dangers of New Facebook Dating Feature

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by the US Congress last month but sent one of his executives to answer questions posed by the House of Commons culture and media committee
AFP

Following the announcement of Facebook’s new dating feature, privacy experts have expressed skepticism surrounding the company’s new direction.

Facebook recently announced a new Tinder-style dating app that would allow Facebook users to express romantic interest in other users attending the same events as them or located nearby. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated during the F8 conference: “This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships — not just for hookups.” The CEO also attempted to calm privacy fears that many may have had surrounding Facebook’s latest user data scandal. Zuckerberg stated: “We have 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.”

But some privacy experts are not convinced that the new dating feature is a good idea, according to SFGate. Justin Brookman, the director of privacy and technology policy at the advocacy group Consumers Union, raised multiple issues with Facebook’s new service: “Facebook already knows a lot about you that you tell it, and it collects a lot of information about you beyond that … Now here’s this whole other bucket of really sensitive stuff. How will Facebook police that? Will they put the resources into safety? … Or will their thirst for engagement trump these other concerns?”

Felicia Cravens, a Texan woman who runs a Facebook page called Unfakery that tracks and alerts users to possible scams said that Facebook’s new dating feature would be a prime target for scam artists and fraudsters. “Facebook could enter this space and take it over relatively quickly, but should they, when we’re seeing as many problems as we do?” Cravens said. “People are scamming people right now on Facebook platforms from Nigeria, Macedonia, the Philippines and everywhere else.”

Mike Herrick, the senior vice president of product and engineering at the ad-analytics firm Urban Airship, said that the new feature would give Facebook even more of an insight into users personal lives, dating habits, and interests. Herrick stated that it would give Facebook an insight into “people’s wants and desires around dating directly in a much cleaner way than how they were getting that type of data previously.” Herrick said this information could be extremely valuable to marketers: “you know somebody’s dating, they might also be more likely to purchase new clothes or makeup or other products.”

Sasja Beslik, the head of sustainable investing at the financial-services group Nordea Asset Management, posted a tweet on Wednesday noting some inconsistencies in Facebook’s latest claims: “Facebook needs 3 years to fix the data and privacy issues, but just found time to launch a dating feature and take on Tinder.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com 

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