For More Than Just Friends? Facebook Will Soon Offer a Dating Service

“We’re surprised at the timing given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory,” Match Group’s chief executive, Mandy Ginsberg, said in a statement. “We understand this category better than anyone. Facebook’s entry will only be invigorating to all of us.”

Joey Levin, the chief executive of IAC, also took a dig at Facebook by referring to how Russian agents had used the social network to influence voters in the 2016 presidential election.

“Come on in. The water’s warm,” he said in statement. “Their product could be great for U.S./Russia relationships.”

Mr. Zuckerberg painted the new dating service as a natural extension of Facebook, saying that he is frequently approached by couples on the street who say they first met on the social network.

“If we’re focused on helping people build meaningful relationships, this is perhaps the most meaningful of all,” he said.

Facebook has a history of developing new services for its enormously popular social network that mimic independent services, apps, and sites. In 2010, the company introduced Facebook Places, a way for people to identify their physical location online that emulated a service built by the start-up Foursquare. More recently, it introduced photo filters and visual storytelling tools reminiscent of rival social network Snapchat.

On Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg also said that his company would roll similar Snapchat-like tools onto Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012.

In announcing the dating service, Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, made a point of saying 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 existing Facebook friends. And communications within the dating service will remain separate from the company’s existing messaging services, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Privacy advocates, however, questioned whether it was wise for a company that had recently faced a public loss of trust over its handling of people’s data to enter the sensitive world of dating preferences.

“This does not seem like a thing that will go well, given Facebook’s history of leaking sensitive data about users to each other,” tweeted Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization.

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