“Facebook could enter this space and take it over relatively quickly, but should they, when we’re seeing as many problems as we do?” Cravens said. “People are scamming people right now on Facebook platforms from Nigeria, Macedonia, the Philippines and everywhere else.”

Matchmaking with Facebook’s data is older than the site itself: One of Zuckerberg’s first projects, FaceMash, scooped up pictures of female Harvard students and let users rate them by hotness. It was a “prank website that I made when I was a sophomore in college,” Zuckerberg explained to a lawmaker last month.
The new dating feature, Zuckerberg said this week, “is for building real long-term relationships, not just hookups,” and he said it could be life-changing for the more than 200 million Facebook users who list themselves as single. “If we’re focused on helping people build meaningful relationships, this is perhaps the most meaningful of all,” he said.
The company has for years collected people’s relationship status (“Married,” “It’s Complicated”) and used it to help fuel its vast personal-data machine. In 2013, Facebook and Cornell University researchers pulled data on 1.3 million users to try to predict whether couples would break up within 60 days of Facebook announcing their relationship. (Couples whose mutual friends were closely connected to each other, the researchers said, were more likely to call it quits.)
But the new dating service could give Facebook an entirely new level of visibility into its users’ love lives, and privacy experts said they’re concerned users won’t understand how much information they’ll be handing over. Facebook will log interactions on the dating site, keep a record of everyone a user likes or rejects and gather other data necessary for the service to work, officials said.
“Am I going to get matches based on liking ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’ when I was 14?” said one 22-year-old law student in California currently using other online-dating apps. Plus, she added, “many women, including me, have had to deal with complete strangers, usually middle-aged men abroad, sending gross messages when you're not their friends.” Having a Facebook dating profile, she guessed, wouldn’t help.
Company officials said they won’t use dating-service data to inform ad targeting at the outset. But marketing experts said they’re skeptical that Facebook’s promise will last. The company’s business model depends on the sharing of often sensitive personal information, and dating data may prove too valuable to ignore.
Mike Herrick, senior vice president of product and engineering at the market analytics company Urban Airship, said the dating service will allow Facebook to know not just its users’ current paramours also but who they’re interested in, what they like and how active they are in seeking a match.
That data, he said, will more than make up for any information Facebook might have surrendered after recently severing some ties to third-party data brokers. It will allow the social network to learn “people’s wants and desires around dating directly in a much cleaner way than how they were getting that type of data previously,” he said.
That level of data intimacy, he added, could have great value to marketers: If you’re an advertiser and “you know somebody’s dating, they might also be more likely to purchase new clothes or makeup or other products,” he said.
Critics are also questioning Facebook’s priorities in launching a side service while its challenges with privacy and fake news abound. Sasja Beslik, head of sustainable investing at the financial-services group Nordea Asset Management, tweeted Wednesday, “Facebook needs 3 years to fix the data and privacy issues, but just found time to launch a dating feature and take on Tinder.”