By BRIAN DINSMORE
SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Reaching back to its early days, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that the social media giant was launching an dating application on its popular service.
Addressing the company’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Zuckerberg proclaimed that “one in three marriages in the United States start online” and then told the audience about users approaching him and saying their relationships began on Facebook.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be walking down the street in some city and a couple will come up to me and say they have met on Facebook,” he said. “Sometimes they will have their kids with them and point to them and say ‘Thank You.’ These are some of the moments I’m really proud of.”
Zuckerberg said there were 200 million people who list themselves as single so “clearly there is something to do here.”
“If we are focused helping people with meaningful relationship, this is the most meaningful of all,” he said.
Zuckerberg said there would be a whole, new set of features on Facebook related to dating.
“This is going to be for building real long term relationships and not just hook ups,” he said to a roar of laughter from the crowd.
“It’s opt-in, if you want you can make a profile … We designed this with privacy and safety in mind,” said Zuckerberg, whose company is currently in the hot seat over privacy. “Your friends aren’t going to see your profile. Your only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends who have opted into dating who fit your preferences although I can’t promise that you are going to get an e-mate.”
He added: “We want Facebook to be somewhere where you can start meaningful relationships.”
The move will create new competition for popular dating apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble. And it will pose a test for them because they have largely come to rely on asking their users to login with Facebook credentials. This grants the apps access to select Facebook data, which helps to speed up the process of creating dating profiles.
Shares of Match Group — the parent company of dating platforms like Tinder, Match.com and OKCupid — plunged as much as 19% on Tuesday afternoon following the news. Shares of IAC/InterActiveCorp, the majority owner of Match, also fell 11%.
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