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Friends with benefits: Can Facebook tackle your love life?

Posted: 9:17 AM, Sep 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-05 10:17:57-04
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is tackling a new frontier: love.

Facebook Dating, a matchmaking service the company already offers in Brazil, Canada and 17 other countries , will arrive in the U.S. on Thursday. But after years of privacy missteps by the social network, will people trust it with their love lives?

The mobile-only feature is part of Facebook’s ongoing attempt to reach into all aspects of human existence. Tinder and other apps already use Facebook’s data to suggest matches and let people log in using their Facebook accounts. Facebook Dating, while being free to use and free of ads, can still help Facebook make money if it keeps people glued to its other services longer.

That’s if users can get over concerns about privacy.

“A feature on Facebook that people don’t trust isn’t going to be successful,” said Rob Sherman, the company’s deputy chief privacy officer. “We built in privacy from the ground up.”

Tell that to Seth Carter, 32, an engineer from Terre Haute, Indiana, who tried a host of dating apps ranging from Match to Bumble, Tinder and Christian Mingle prior to his current relationship.

“Facebook is here to make money and I get that,” he said. But he worries that Facebook’s stated commitment to privacy would ultimately buckle under pressure to make money off the service. “That likely means they’re going to sell my dating preferences, which means even more intrusions into my life.”

Facebook says it won’t be doing any of that. But users like Carter can hardly be blamed for their apprehension, given the company’s multiple stumbles over protecting people’s private information. Facebook was fined a record $5 billion this summer by the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations. It’s also under scrutiny for allowing for the spread of election-related misinformation and discrimination in U.S. housing ads.