One of my friends only joined Facebook so he could use Tinder to meet women. He never updates his status, comments on posts, or responds to invitations to play Farmville. He’s all about swiping.
He uses Facebook like an ID card, flashing it at the login page of Tinder so he can stay in his dating happy place. It works out nicely for both companies who get his personal information in exchange for connecting him to a larger social scene.
Facebook Implemented Data Privacy Updates
It seems Facebook just can’t catch a break these days. Following a series of embarrassing and alarming headlines, Mark Zuckerberg ended up testifying before Congress for two days about the data-sharing practices that put millions of users in the crosshairs of Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political consulting firm.
Protesters outside the Capitol chanted, “Zuckerberg, you’re absurd,” while #DeleteFacebook was trending on Twitter. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” Facebook’s CEO said, shamefaced. “And that was a big mistake.”
The company has already started on damage control. In April 2018, Facebook released a commercial promising to do better and reminding users about all the good its social networking site can do.
In the weeks leading up to Mark’s congressional hearing, Facebook proposed sitewide privacy updates to clarify its terms of service and data policy. The team also re-examined its data collection practices on Android devices, particularly regarding users’ call records and contacts.
“We’ve reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages,” said Facebook CTO Mike Shroepfer. “In the future, the client will only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature.”
Additionally, Facebook has started rolling out new data privacy settings in response to the General Data Protection Regulation passed by the European Union. In compliance with the new law, Facebook will ask its users whether they want to see targeted advertisements based on the political, religious, or relationship information on their profiles.
These changes will start in Europe and Canada at the end of May, but Mark indicated in his testimony that the new rules will extend to the US and the rest of the world in due time.
“We’re going to do that,” Mark said. “We’re going to put a tool at the top of people’s apps that walks them through their settings.”
Singles Ended Up Trapped in a Dating Purgatory
So how does all this complicated social-networking privacy business impact the dating industry? Well, in early April, Facebook’s backend tinkering temporarily booted Tinder users out of the app. Some poor souls were trapped in a feedback loop where they were asked to log into Facebook ad infinitum.
Tinder users took to Twitter (because of course they did) to air their grievances. “My Tinder Tweetdeck column is full of people freaking because Facebook’s privacy changes appear to have somehow goofed up Tinder,” tweeted Madison Malone Kircher. “Now how will people ever have sex again!!!”
“The app is broken,” said Sherwin Chen in a tweet. “It ask[s] you to log in with Facebook again and again for a thousand times. What the heck.”
“Tinder is down, FYI. If you were wondering why Twitter was busier than usual.” — Al Corner, a Twitter user
The error message told users they needed to log into Facebook and provide additional Facebook permissions in order to use their Tinder accounts. “This information is used to create fuller profiles, verify authenticity, and provide support,” the error message read. The problem was, it didn’t let users log in.
One Tinder user named Tyler Walker said he was “stuck in a constant loop of asking for validation. Which is extremely representative of how I use Tinder.”
Tinder was the only dating app affected by the glitch, though other apps, including Bumble, Hinge, and Badoo, require users to connect through Facebook. Both Facebook and Tinder were all over the issue and worked quickly to calm down the Twitterverse.
“This was part of the changes that we announced today,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We are working with Tinder to address the issue.”
The problem arose in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 4, and it was reportedly fixed that night. “A technical issue prevented some users from accessing our service earlier today,” a Tinder representative said. “We found a resolution and quickly resumed service. We ask our users to ensure that they have updated the app and are running the most recent version.”
Cracking Down on Data Has Unintended Consequences
Relations between Facebook and Tinder are gearing up to become even more awkward and tense because Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook is going to launch an opt-in dating feature for its single users. Suddenly the company that has supported and authenticated Tinder’s membership base will become one of its competitors.
Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg responded, “We’re flattered that Facebook is coming into our space — and sees the global opportunity that we do — as Tinder continues to skyrocket. We’re surprised at the timing given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory.”
Shots fired. If Facebook has its way, swiping will be replaced by liking, and Tinder will be out of commission for more than single day. What Facebook does in the coming months will likely have a huge impact on the online dating industry, and we’ll all be on the edge of our seats to see how everything shakes out.