Facebook will soon be used to show people how much you like them. Picture: Supplied
Facebook will soon be used to show people how much you like them. Picture: Supplied

Facebook to launch dating service

FACEBOOK chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted the social network had not done enough to protect users' privacy and would make more mistakes, while also asking users to trust it with their most intimate pursuit: their dating lives.

The tech giant's surprise entrance into the matchmaking market was one of a host of announcements at its F8 developers' conference in San Jose overnight, as it revealed a new tool for users' to wipe their Facebook history, an anti-bullying filter for Instagram, the introduction of big business to WhatsApp, and a new virtual reality headset.

Mark Zuckerberg said the dating app would not suggest other Facebook users’ friends to date like Tinder does. Picture: Supplied
Mark Zuckerberg said the dating app would not suggest other Facebook users’ friends to date like Tinder does. Picture: Supplied

Facebook's online dating move had the biggest immediate effect, however, with shares in Tinder's parent company dropping more than 20 per cent following the announcement.

Mr Zuckerberg kicked off the company's annual conference by recognising it had not "been easy" to be a Facebook developer "these last couple of months", following the biggest data breach in the company's 14-year history.

An app developer sold the private details of as many as 87 million Facebook users to shadowy political organisation Cambridge Analytica, which allegedly used it to influence the 2016 US election.

Mr Zuckerberg reiterated the company's plans to restrict "data that developers will be able to request from people," but said the social network would likely fail again.

"There's no guarantee that we get this right," he said. "This is hard stuff. We will make mistakes and they will have consequences and we will need to fix them."

Despite this admission, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook would launch a dating service in the wake of the scandal, and it would sit inside the main Facebook app.

"This is going to be for building real long-term relationships, not just hook-ups," he said. "It's going to be in the Facebook app but it's totally optional.

"I know a lot of you are going to have questions about this so I want to be clear that we've designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. Your friends aren't going to see your profile."

Facebook is moving into the world of online dating. Picture: AFP
Facebook is moving into the world of online dating. Picture: AFP

Mr Zuckerberg said the dating service, designed for the 200 million Facebook users who described themselves as single, wouldn't suggest matches between friends, but would show which single people were attending events near the user.

Daters could trade text-based messages, but not photographs, and would only be known by their first name.

The service will be a direct rival to popular dating app Tinder, however, which uses Facebook to authenticate its users and match people with similar interests.

Tinder's parent company, which also operates OkCupid and Match.com, fell more than 23 per cent following Facebook's announcement, as it could struggle to compete with Facebook, given its audience of 2.2 billion montly active users.

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before US Congress. Picture: Getty
Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before US Congress. Picture: Getty

Facebook also revealed plans to roll out a new tool called Clear History that would let users delete website browsing history collected by the pervasive social network, similar to deleting cookies from a web browser.

The company also planned to launch an artificially intelligent bullying filter to Instagram communications, to block "language intended to harass or upset people," and revealed it was working on a tool to allow big businesses to communicate with WhatsApp users.

Facebook also launched a new version of its virtual reality headset, called Oculus Go, which operates without a smartphone and costs $US199.