CALIFORNIA, U.S. - What emerged as the Facebook’s most boggling reveal at its annual developer conference called the F8 in May this year - its dating feature - is now one step closer to being unveiled.
At the time the feature was announced, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was still mired in an embarrassing and potentially damaging data privacy scandal involving the now defunct company, Cambridge Analytica.
As the scandal threatened to impact Facebook’s main revenue generation model and the company made efforts to overcome the growing criticism over its mishandling of user data - the company said that it was on a mission to connect people.
Zuckerberg said at the time that Facebook should be in the business of bringing people together in new ways and therefore had decided to unveil a new dating feature.
Zuckerberg stated that the dating service would be an opt-in feature that allows users to create a separate dating profile to their existing Facebook account.
Facebook even said that it would not match people with those they are already friends with.
Touting the dating feature as a good opportunity, Zuckerberg had pointed out that around 200 million users on the social network list themselves as single.
Further, the new offering put Facebook in competition with existing dating apps and services.
Zuckerberg had argued that his aim for the tool is to create “real, long-term relationships” and “not just hook-ups.”
At the time the announcement was made, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox joked that he thought Facebook would have launched dating more than a decade ago.
Cox said on stage, “One of the great ironies for me is that when a lot of us joined the very first version of the service in 2004, back when it was just a handful of college students, we were convinced that dating would be the next feature Facebook was going to add. We were right, just 14 years too early.”
Now, Facebook has announced that it has started testing its new dating feature internally.
The announcement by Facebook reportedly came after an independent app researcher claimed to have gained access to the sign-up screen of Facebook Dating.
According to reports, Wong is known to uncover new features on the site by looking through source code.
The researcher, Jane Manchun Wong posted a screenshot of the sign-up page for Facebook Dating on Twitter and wrote, “I can't go past the signup screen because they are not activating all non-employee Dating profiles because, well, it's pre-launch.”
The screenshot reads, “This product is for US Facebook employees who have opted-in to dogfooding (a slang term which refers to a firm testing its own product) Facebook’s new dating product."
It further reads, “The purpose for this dogfooding is to test the end-to-end product experience for bugs and confusing UI. This is not meant for dating your coworkers.”
Reports noted that Facebook told employees that the process is “completely voluntary” and that all data will be deleted before launch.