It’s the beginning of a brand new month and Mark Zuckerberg has made some interesting new announcements in his keynote at the Facebook F8 Developers Conference. One announcement included a new privacy control called “Clear History.” This will be similar to how you can clear your history and cookies in your web browser. Once they roll this out you’ll be able to see information about the apps and websites you’ve used, and be able to clear this information from your account. You’ll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.
It’s a very interesting and smart option to add but I am curious to see how it will play out with users. When you clear cookies in your browser, it can diminish parts of your experience. You may have to sign back in to sites and reconfigure some things. The same will happen with Facebook. Your Facebook won’t be as good until it relearns your preferences. With added inconveniences and a lessened experience, some may decide they don’t like the feature after all and not use it. We shall see.
What was most interesting was learning that Facebook will be adding a dating feature within the main app. You will be able to opt in or out of the dating option. They will match you with people you are not friends with but have common likes, groups, and event interests. There will be a chat function that is separate from Messenger in which you can communicate with matches. They will also allow you to keep your participation in the dating feature private from your Facebook friends.
Adding dating makes total sense and I’m surprised they haven’t done this sooner. Facebook has an enormous user base (usually a huge struggle for other dating apps) and a plethora of data on said users. According to Zuckerberg, the focus will be on building long-term relationships, not just hookups. What will be particularly interesting to see is how Facebook compares to other dating apps in terms of matchmaking success. They say our friends know us better than anyone else, but what friend nows us better than Facebook? One may even venture that Facebook knows us better than we know ourselves.
Only time will tell how good of a matchmaker Facebook turns out to be. All the extra data they have that other dating apps don’t could be a huge help. It also could be a hinderance if they can’t figure out what data is relevant and what is not. There are very interesting things ahead with Facebook. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!
On another note, some may read this and wonder why I don’t seem concerned about the recent data scandal. First of all, the data breaches are a bigger reflection on how outsiders have abused Facebook as opposed to how the company itself has. That’s not to say Facebook is innocent and hasn’t done anything wrong. They certainly weren’t as diligent as they should have been. Security should have been a greater concern. While I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg never expected Facebook to become the largest social network when he started in his dorm room, it’s become a behemoth with data on billions of users. This needs to be taken seriously and safeguarded. Second, you shouldn’t for one second be shocked by the amount of data Facebook has on us. We freely give them access to all kinds of personal details.
If you love the On This Day feature, you can thank Facebook for storing your data. It’s because of you sharing that information and Facebook holding on to it, that they are able to take you on a touching stroll down memory lane every day. Or maybe you love those fun Facebook quizzes that tell you what kind of food your are or which superhero you would be. Ever notice the quizzes don’t actually ask you questions? When you click on one of those quizzes, those apps ask permission to access your Facebook account. They then use the information you freely share on Facebook to come up with your incredibly accurate result.
Now some of you may be thinking, “I rarely post on Facebook and never do those stupid quizzes.” Well, how many of you use Facebook to log into other sites? Don’t say no too fast, think about it. Every time I log on to Hulu to watch The Handmaid’s Tale (btw season 2 is off to a stunning start!), I use Facebook to log in. Same with CBS All Access (can’t miss The Good Fight). You can also log into apps like MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, MindBody, and a host of others, using Facebook. Some you may not log into with Facebook but can be connected to your account. For example, FitBit lets you connect your Facebook account to help you find friends on the app.
My point is, we can point the finger at Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook all day long but at the end of the day, we freely provided this information to them. Even if you have a private profile so exes and randoms can’t see what you’re up to, Facebook still can. You are on their platform. We are all complicit in this but that doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up and accept it. We can decide to limit what we share and which apps have access to our Facebook accounts. We can take ownership of our online behavior and educate ourselves if this is new to us. Meanwhile, Facebook can step up and put in greater protections to keep the platform we love from getting abused.