- At the beginning of May, Facebook announced it was launching a dating product.
- The company has received criticism from other companies in the dating app scene like Happn and Match.com.
- Ashley Madison’s CTO says people should be aware that as Facebook generates revenue from adverts, you are essentially the product.
- Users will have to weigh up whether they are happy about involving their dating lives in that, he said.
At the beginning of May, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was entering the dating app scene, wanting its users to create “the most meaningful relationship of all.”
Zuckerberg’s new venture drew a lot of attention from other leaders in the industry, including the CEO of Happn, Didier Rappaport, who said the announcement was just “trying to distract” from the recent data scandal. Executives at Match Group also hit out at the idea, saying it was great for US/Russia relationships, and the timing was surprising “given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory.”
Ashley Madison is arguably the polar opposite of what Facebook is thinking of creating. Users go to the adult dating service for discretion for affairs and polyamorous relationships.
According to Ashley Madison’s CTO Ruben Buell, because of the size of its user base alone, Facebook is going to be pretty dominant in the online dating space. But, if Facebook is sticking with its traditional methods of making money, it will be pushing an ad based model. This, Buell said, may conjure up some concerns from users.
“It does make you ask, if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product,” he told Business Insider.
“Companies like Ashley where we don’t sell data, and we don’t have any advertisers on the platform, we can focus on discretion and privacy, and protecting users data. Facebook will be focusing on building another ad platform, going after this primary market of 18-40 year olds, probing into our personal lives so they can grab insights, which they can sell to advertisers.”
Facebook’s goal has always been connecting the world, he added, but they are going a step further when they are connecting our personal data to the world when it concerns something all of us take very seriously – our dating lives.
In general, people are getting more savvy about how much of their information on Facebook is publicly available to view. So Buell said this may be a challenge for Facebook going forward.
However, although it’s a little bit out of place for what Facebook is at the moment, the sheer scale and volume of users Facebook has mean it is likely to be a “disruptive force,” Buell said.
Facebook also has an advantage of being one of the largest advertising networks on the planet. This means they can easily shut competitors out of their user base.
“As we were last September looking to advertise on the platform, they went through a somewhat faint approval process then came back and said ‘at this time we’re not accepting any dating advertisers.'” Buell said. “Which makes a lot of sense now.”
The biggest pushback from potential users will be concerns about how much information Facebook has on them, and how much they’re willing to share with potential suitors, Buell said.
“And how careful can you be with that data when you need to be able to mine it, and sell it for your ad platform?” he added. “You need to make it available to third party advertisers because that’s the only way you monetise your product – and your product is your user.”