Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday announced that the world’s largest social network would soon include a new dating feature — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Zuckerberg unveiled the plans as he addressed Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California — emphasizing that the focus would be on helping people find long-term partners.
“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg said in presenting the new feature, noting that one in three marriages in the US start online and that about 200 million Facebook users identify as being single.
Under the new feature, users will be able to create a separate “dating” profile not visible to their network of friends, with potential matches recommended based on dating preferences, points in common and mutual acquaintances.
It will be free of charge, in line with Facebook’s core offering.
The 33-year-old CEO also said the dating offer was built from the ground up with privacy and safety in mind, as he underscored the firm’s commitment to boosting privacy protections.
“We need to make sure that never happens again,” Zuckerberg told the audience.
In a related move, Facebook announced an upcoming feature called “Clear History” that will allow users to see which apps and Web sites send the network information, delete the data from their account and prevent Facebook from storing it.
The social network has already moved to limit the amount of data it shares with third-party applications and plans further steps to prevent a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica debacle, Zuckerberg said.
Facebook is also reviewing applications overall as well as auditing those that accessed large amounts of data to make sure access is not abused, he said.
“Security isn’t a problem than you ever fully solve,” Zuckerberg said, outlining the slew of efforts by Facebook to battle election interference, misinformation and spam among other challenges.
“This is an arms race; we are going to be working to stay ahead of our adversaries forever,” he said.
Facebook separately announced that its popular Messenger app would soon be able to translate missives in real time, deploying artificial intelligence to enable text conversations between people using different languages.
The feature will launch in the US with English and Spanish translations of conversations in the Marketplace section of Facebook, and will be extended to general Messenger use in coming weeks, the service said in a blog post.
Plans were also revealed to simplify the Messenger app, which critics contend has gotten clunky, and add group voice and video calls to Facebook’s other messaging service WhatsApp.
The slew of announcements at the developer-centric “F8” conference also included the arrival of a stand-alone Oculus Go headset to widen support for virtual reality by supporting social experiences such as watch parties.
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