Facebook Adds Dating App, Launches Oculus Go

02 May, 2018

Facebook has announced it will add a dating service to its growing list of new products.

The announcement came Tuesday at Facebook's F8 conference in San Jose, California. The yearly event is for app developers and is a place for the company to show off its latest products and services.

Facebook has considered adding a dating app for years. But founder Mark Zuckerberg said he felt now is the right time to begin the service. He said that currently, 1 in 3 marriages in the United States starts with an internet relationship. About 200 million people on Facebook identify themselves as single.

Zuckerberg said the new service would be "coming soon." He noted that the service will aim to help users build long-term relationships, "not just hookups."

"And if we're focused on helping people build meaningful relationships, then this is perhaps the most meaningful of all."

He added that the dating service will appear within the Facebook app, but users will have complete control over whether they want to use it. People can choose to enter a dating profile. But this will be separate from an individual's main Facebook profile, and will not be seen by users' friends.

Internet dating is very popular in the U.S. Facebook says its app will provide strong competition to existing sites such as Match, Tinder, OkCupid, JDate and eHarmony. The value of stock in those companies dropped sharply after the announcement.

Zuckerberg said the dating app was designed with strong tools to protect the safety and privacy of Facebook users. The announcement about the dating app comes as the company tries to ease public anger over its privacy policies.

Issues over privacy still a concern

The Facebook chief recently apologized that the company did not take more steps to protect users' private information. Zuckerberg has admitted to U.S. lawmakers and to the public that the company made mistakes in dealing with personal information. That includes sharing private information of up to 87 million users with a British political research company.

In another security-related announcement, Zuckerberg said Facebook was building a "clear history" privacy control. It is designed to clear records of where users go on Facebook. The company recently announced additional tools that it says will give users better choices and more ways to protect private data.

During his opening comments at the conference, Zuckerberg repeated many times what he considers to be Facebook's main goal. He said it is to provide a place for people to build "meaningful relationships."

During his presentation, he spoke about new products and services created to fulfill this goal.

The company's new offerings suggest that Facebook wants to keep expanding into as many different areas of its users' lives as possible. Zuckerberg repeatedly promised, "We will keep building."

Extending other services

The new services extend to Facebook's other brands, including Instagram and WhatsApp. Some are related to business.

One example of an existing business product is Facebook's Marketplace. Users can buy or sell goods on the app. Zuckerberg said Marketplace is one of Facebook's fastest growing services. The company says more than 800 million people in 70 countries now use the service monthly.

Facebook's Marketplace app allows users to buy or sell goods with other Facebook members. (Facebook)
Facebook's Marketplace app allows users to buy or sell goods with other Facebook members. (Facebook)

One of the company's latest offerings is WhatsApp Business, designed to help people connect with local businesses. Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014. The app was created as a way to let people share texts, photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to expand WhatsApp Business to large companies as well as small businesses. The idea is for users to use WhatsApp's messaging technology to get services without having to place phone calls or visit a store.

Zuckerberg also wants Facebook's Messenger service to be expanded to include more business applications.

He also announced plans to redesign Instagram to make it easier for users to find content that most interests them. Other changes announced for Instagram include a new group video chat feature and the addition of Facebook's AR Camera Effects. This feature lets users add effects and designs to photos and videos.

And Zuckerberg pleased the crowd when he announced the launch of Facebook's new Oculus Go virtual reality (VR) glasses. He said the devices would be available immediately. Prices for the device start at $199.

The glasses are designed to make people feel as though they are in a particular place, without physically being there. The crowd cheered loudly when Zuckerberg announced that everybody at F8 would receive an Oculus Go for free.

Zuckerberg ended by admitting the company had had, what he called, an "intense" year. But he said he wanted to place attention on trying to help people start meaningful relationships and "build things that bring people together."

"So yes, this is an important moment. We need to do more to keep people safe, and we will. But we also need to keep building and bringing the world closer together."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on information from Facebook and reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

app n. a type of application software designed to run on a computer or mobile device

hookup n. (slang) when people get together for a sexual encounter

profile n. brief written description that provides information about someone or something

data n. information or facts about something

brand n. group of goods identified by name as the product

application n. the way something is used for a particular purpose

feature n. an interesting or important part, quality, ability, etc.

virtual reality n. computer images and sounds that make you feel an imagined situation is real