TechCrunch Slams Facebook Dating Service In Scathing Article

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The dating industry has been remarkably restrained in its responses to Facebook’s upcoming dating service.

A spokesperson from Bumble described the company as “thrilled” to welcome its new competitor, and suggested that perhaps “Bumble and Facebook can join forces to make the connecting space even more safe and empowering.”

Joey Levin, chief executive at IAC, assured shareholders that “on the long list of things we worry about in our dating business, [Facebook] doesn't top the list."

Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg released a statement announcing that “Facebook’s entry will only be invigorating to all of us."

Tinder CEO Elie Seidman simply said he is “convinced” Tinder can “rise to the occasion.”

The most caustic critique of Facebook Dating so far comes not from a rival dating service, but from one of the largest online publishers in the technology industry: TechCrunch.

In a blistering article titled ’Seven reasons not to trust Facebook to play cupid,’ writer Natasha Lomas calls Facebook Dating “an attempt to humanize Facebook surveillance,” “a distraction,” and “yet another cynical data grab.”

“Facebook getting into dating looks very much like a mid-life crisis,” she writes, “as a veteran social network desperately seeks a new strategy to stay relevant in an age when app users have largely moved on from social network ‘lifecasting’ to more bounded forms of sharing, via private messaging and/or friend groups inside dedicated messaging and sharing apps.”

She goes on to blast Facebook’s careful attempts to position itself as a “tasteful” service rather than “a sex app,” and questions why anyone would willingly allow a company mired in so much controversy to play a role in their romantic life.

Lomas devotes much of her criticism to Facebook’s famously questionable approach to privacy.

“Dating is… just a convenient veneer to slap atop another major data grab as Facebook tries to find less icky ways to worm its way back and/or deeper into people’s lives,” she writes.

Not only is Facebook Dating a barely-concealed excuse to mine more user data that can then be purchased by advertisers, according to Lomas, it is one with potential to have an even more invasive reach, as users often share more personal information on dating profiles than they would on a social networking service.

When a company’s business model necessitates that users are tracked at all times, can it be trusted with the most intimate details of your dating life? How about when it has a history of changing privacy settings without users’ consent? Or when it has allowed app developers to “liberally rip user data out of its platform” and neglected to enforce its own policies about the misuse of such data?

Then there’s the simple issue of clientele:

“A dating app is only as interesting and attractive as the people on it. Which might be the most challenging hurdle for Facebook to make a mark on this well-served playing field — given its eponymous network is now neither young nor cool, hip nor happening, and seems to be having more of an identity crisis with each passing year.”

Are there even enough people left on Facebook, who are both single and interested in letting the social network play Cupid, to sustain the service?

Facebook’s dating product may be facing an uphill battle -- not because the market is already dominated by fierce competitors, but because of its own waning reputation. With tests of the feature now live in Colombia, the challenge to make Facebook Dating a success is only just beginning.

For more on this upcoming service you can read our Facebook Dating review.