Facebook users have been able to reveal their relationship status on the network since it first went live in February 2004 and according to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, there are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single. (Photo Courtesy)
Facebook users have been able to reveal their relationship status on the network since it first went live in February 2004 and according to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, there are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single. (Photo Courtesy)

Menlo Park-based social networking firm, Facebook Inc. is reportedly said to be joining the dating game. Thomson Reuters reports Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday, planning a dating service to match make millions of people on the world’s largest online social network and nudge them into spending more time there.

The announcement was made at the on going Facebook’s annual F8 Developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S.A.

“There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there’s something to do here,” Zuckerberg told software developers at Facebook’s annual F8 conference.

Facebook shares rose 1.1%t to close at USD$173.86 on the news, which sparked a sell-off of established online dating service providers. The service, which Facebook had considered offering for over a decade and will launch soon, could help rebuild its popularity among younger consumers and make people visit the site more often, two key challenges for the business.

A dating service could increase the time people spend on Facebook and be a big problem its competitors, said James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities.

“But the initial functionality looks relatively basic compared to those offered by Match’s services, so the impact Facebook has on the dating space will be down to how well it executes in this area,” Cordwell said.

Prototype

A prototype was displayed at the F8 conference that showed a heart shape at the top-right corner of the Facebook app. Pressing on it will take people to their dating profile if they have set one up.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about a dating feature at Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam.

Potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common and mutual friends, Facebook said in a statement.

The prototype was built around local, in-person events, allowing people to browse other attendees and send them messages.

It did not appear to have a feature to “swipe” left or right on potential matches to signal interest, as Tinder and other established services have. But there were two buttons for “pass” and “interested.”

The optional feature will be for finding long-term relationships, “not just hook-ups,” Zuckerberg said. It will be launched soon, he added, without giving a specific date.

More details will be revealed over the next few months, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said in a separate presentation.