Dating with Facebook: What’s love got to do with it?

In Hindi, there is a saying that no matter what you do, you can’t unbend a dog’s tail. I was reminded of that saying when I read the news that Facebook was launching a dating app, to make a love connection. While on the surface it might impact the fortunes of Tinder, the dating app that changed the rules of modern dating, a conclusion reflected in the stock of Match Group which promptly nosedived.

“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.” Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook has launched a version of existing products offered by other companies. Foursquare was Facebook Places, Groupon was cloned as Facebook Deals while Facebook Credits took on PayPal. Remember Notify, the Twitter killer? However, since those failures, Facebook has become good at using its voluminous hoard of data and a robust social graph to launch new services. WhatsApp stories with 250 million daily active users make it almost as big as Snap.

It is hardly a surprise that they will attempt dating — it increases time spent on Facebook, it brings a new flavor of addiction. Take a step back and remind yourself of Facebook’s attempts to bring you news ended in fake news becoming the norm. Their algorithms created not friendship but hate bubbles. And now the same company will create an algorithm of love?

However scratch the surface, and you start to see that this is Facebook being Facebook. They are addicted to collecting personal data, and what better way to get people to share their intimate details wants and desires by creating a tool that promises the elusive love, or more realistically, a date. When you are in dating mode, you are more likely to reveal a lot more intimate details.

In this age of suspicion — no one trusts Facebook — even asking for what song you heard on Spotify feels like an insult. However, if sharing your musical tastes helps with your likelihood of finding love, chances are you will gladly handover that information. You will even input your physical description, your location, and every goddamn detail about your life. You will leave your intimate thoughts, conversations, and fears on Facebook’s servers, making yourself even more beholden to them.

All this in the name of love! All that data can help them create a better profile of you to sell to their only customer — the advertising community. The brazen audacity of their move is fantastic, mostly because they have everyone distracted by some bullshit promise that you can clear browser history sometime in the future —. I exact dates yet — or that it will take three years to fix Facebook (as told to Wired magazine.)

As a company it knows it can get away with anything — the recent dustup around Cambridge Analytica is already yesterday’s terabyte. Seriously, this is the ultimate Machiavellian move by a company that cannot and will not change. After all, no one loves Facebook like Facebook!

A letter from Om

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