There are no shortage of red flags when it comes to online dating. There are catfish, unicorn hunters, unsolicited dick pics, and endless “haha and then what ;)” messages. That’s all without worrying about whether or not the actual info you give the site is going to be released all over the internet.
Facebook has announced it will be rolling out a new feature in the US called Facebook Dating. It’s a dating site that can be accessed from the main app if you fill out a separate dating profile, then connects you with people based on where you are, preferences you’ve told Facebook about, events you’ve attended, and groups you’re in, amongst other things. You’ll even be able to link your Instagram up to it.
Facebook knows so much about us that I suppose it does make sense that they’d be able to find the best matches for us, but the flip side of the coin is that Facebook doesn’t have a great track record of keeping what they know about us private. The announcement of the Dating rollout came the day after Facebook admitted to accidentally releasing the Facebook IDs and phone numbers of 419 million people. Think about the size of that number for a second. The entire population of Australia is 25 million, and Facebook accidentally released 419 million people’s information. The mind boggles.
Of course that’s just the most recent breach. There was that time a bug in the system made 14 million people’s private posts public; the time that a hacker got in and compromised 50 million accounts; and then there was the whole Cambridge Analytica mess. And those were all in 2018 alone.
Facebook Dating is going to have a feature called “Secret Crush” (side note: that name makes my skin crawl) that allows you to allocate up to nine people as a secret crush. Those people won’t know they’re your crush unless they also nominate you as a secret crush of theirs. If we can’t trust Facebook with our phone numbers, why should we trust them to keep our crushes secret?
Maybe it’s not fair to pin all these concerns on Facebook. Other dating websites have certainly had their fair share of security breaches, and by definition dating sites have some pretty personal info. Lest we forget the Ashley Madison leaks.
When Judith Duportail, a reporter for The Guardian, requested that Tinder send her all of her data, she got far more than she expected:
“Some 800 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook ‘likes’, links to where my Instagram photos would have been had I not previously deleted the associated account, my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many Facebook friends I had, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened … the list goes on.”
“Although we take steps to secure your information, we do not promise, and you should not expect, that your personal information, chats, or other communications will always remain secure.”
At least they’re honest.
Unfortunately garbage security is just a part of being on the internet these days, so for now add “it will stay in my data forever” to the list of reasons not to send an unsolicited dick pic.