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Facebook announces dating app focused on ‘meaningful relationships’

Mark Zuckerberg says app, which shares some features with Tinder, aims to build ‘real long-term relationships – not just hookups’

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Facebook announces dating app focused on ‘meaningful relationships'” was written by Sam Levin in San Jose, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 1st May 2018 21.07 UTC

Facebook is launching a new dating app on the social media platform, its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced at an annual developer conference on Tuesday, unveiling a feature designed to compete with popular services like Tinder.

Speaking in front of a packed crowd in San Jose, Zuckerberg described the new dating feature as a tool to build “real long-term relationships – not just hookups”.

“We want Facebook to be somewhere where you can start meaningful relationships,” he continued. “We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.”

The announcement sparked gasps from the crowd and seemed to attract the most interest from the audience during Zuckerberg’s short speech, which focused on the company’s widening privacy scandal, new safeguards meant to protect users’ data and misinformation and fake news on the site.

Chris Cox, the chief product officer, said the dating feature would be “opt-in” and “safe” and that the company “took advantage of the unique properties of the platform”.

Soon after the announcement, Mandy Ginsberg, the CEO of Match Group, which owns Tinder, threw shade at Facebook, saying in a statement: “We’re surprised at the timing given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory.”

Cox showed a user’s hypothetical dating profile, which he said would be separate from an individual’s regular profile, accessed in a different section of the site. The dating feature would use only a first name and only be visible to those using the service, not an individual’s Facebook friends. The feature would not show up in the news feed, he added.

Cox said users of this feature could browse and “unlock” local events and message others planning to attend. If a potential date responded, the two would then connect via a text messaging feature that is not connected to WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

“We like this by the way because it mirrors the way people actually date, which is usually at events and institutions they’re connected to,” Cox said. “We hope this will help more folks meet and hopefully find partners.”

The sample profiles displayed at the conference resembled some basic features of Tinder.

Shares of Match, which also owns OkCupid and Match.com, fell by 21% after Zuckerberg announced the new feature, according to Bloomberg.

IAC, Match’s parent company, which saw a nearly 14% drop in shares, also took a swipe at Facebook, with a joke about Russian propaganda on the site. Its CEO, Joey Levin, said in a statement: “Come on in. The water’s warm. Their product could be great for US/Russia relationships.”

Shared in Match fell following the announcement that Facebook was launching a dating app.
Shared in Match fell following the announcement that Facebook was launching a dating app. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ginsberg, from Match, also said “Tinder continues to skyrocket” and that the company was “flattered that Facebook is coming into our space”, adding, “We understand this category better than anyone. Facebook’s entry will only be invigorating to all of us.”

A spokesperson for Bumble, another dating app that recently stopped requiring users to log in through Facebook, said the company was “thrilled when we saw today’s news” and had already reached out to Facebook: “Perhaps Bumble and Facebook can join forces to make the connecting space even more safe and empowering.”

The CEO noted that one in three marriages in the US now started online. He said couples who met on Facebook have repeatedly thanked him over the years.

Zuckerberg said: “These are some of the moments that I’m really proud of what we’re doing. I know that we’re making a positive difference in people’s lives.”

The announcement of the dating feature came after Zuckerberg acknowledged that it has been a particularly “intense” year for the company, following revelations that millions of Americans’ personal data was harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Israel says it has conducted ‘wide-ranging’ air strikes against Hamas

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Israeli aircraft and tanks hit targets across the Gaza Strip Friday after shots were fired at troops on the border, the army said, with Hamas reporting three members of its military wing killed.

An army statement said shots were fired at troops during renewed protests along the Gaza-Israel frontier and “in response, (Israeli) aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip.”

The IDF says its warplanes have carried out ‘wide-ranging’ air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, in response to the earlier gunfire.

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US Secretary of State Pompeo demands “full enforcement of sanctions” on North Korea

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told United Nations Security Council envoys on Friday that there needs to be “concrete actions” by North Korea before an easing of sanctions on Pyongyang can be discussed, said Dutch U.N. Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.

“The secretary made very clear we need concrete deeds, concrete actions and only then we can start the discussion,” van Oosterom told reporters after Pompeo informally briefed envoys from the 15-member council, Japan and South Korea behind closed doors at the South Korea U.N. mission.

(New York Times)

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Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment to Playboy Model

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 President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

The recording’s existence further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret. And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump’s secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, confirmed in a telephone conversation on Friday that Mr. Trump had discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen on the tape but said the payment was ultimately never made. He said the recording was less than two minutes and demonstrated that the president had done nothing wrong.

“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Mr. Trump had directed Mr. Cohen that if he were to make a payment related to the woman, write a check, rather than sending cash, so it could be properly documented.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers discovered the recording as part of their review of the seized materials and shared it with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, according to three people briefed on the matter.

“We have nothing to say on this matter,” Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny J. Davis, said when asked about the tape.

(New York Times)

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