SAN JOSE (California) • At Facebook's annual developer conference on Tuesday, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the world's largest social network will soon offer an online dating service.
More than 200 million people on Facebook identify themselves as single, he said, and the new service will let these people connect with one another from within the company's primary app.
"This is for building real long-term relationships, not just hook-ups," said Mr Zuckerberg, in an apparent jab at dating apps such as Tinder.
The reaction to Facebook's dating app was immediate. Shares of Match Group, the company that runs Tinder and other dating apps such as OKCupid, plummeted more than 22 per cent after the announcement. Shares of Match Group's owner, InterActiveCorp, or IAC, dropped by almost 18 per cent.
Match Group responded by pointing to the continued growth of Tinder. It also poked Facebook by calling attention to the controversy that has surrounded the company since March, when it was revealed that the social network had allowed a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, to harvest the information of up to 87 million Facebook users.
"We're surprised at the timing given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory," Match Group's chief executive, Ms Mandy Ginsberg, said in a statement. "We understand this category better than anyone. Facebook's entry will only be invigorating to all of us."
Mr Zuckerberg and Facebook's chief product officer, Mr Chris Cox, said the new offering was designed with privacy and safety in mind. When you create a profile for the dating service, they said, it will not be visible to your Facebook friends.
And communications within the dating service will remain separate from the company's Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.