Facebook Dating: What you need to know about the new Tinder rival

When public distrust of your company’s data handling policies is at an all-time high, is now the correct time to launch a dating service? Facebook seems to think so.

At its F8 conference, the scandal-hit social network says it is building a feature for dating and relationships within the Facebook app. The firm says testing for the feature will begin later this year.

Users will be able to create a dating profile, which will sit separately from their existing Facebook profile. The company will then create recommendations based on the preferences expressed within that profile.

Users will have the option to find potential partners with similar interests, based upon the membership of groups and events. Those who connect via mutual interests will be able to share texts via the standalone Facebook Messenger service.

Mirrors dating

“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,” Chris Cox, the chief product officer said. “We hope this will help more folks meet and hopefully find partners.”

The opt-in feature will sit outside of the main news feed. However, we can presume Facebook will also leverage everything it knows about users to match them up.

In his keynote address under-fire Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the service aims to establish “real long-term relationships – not just hookups”

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

Whether that tired old line will make it past users’ sniff tests this time around remains to be seen.

Related: How to delete your Facebook account

In a blog post on Tuesday the company elaborated: “We’re building a feature for dating and relationships within the Facebook app. People already use Facebook to meet new people, and we want to make that experience better. People will be able to create a dating profile that is separate from their Facebook profile — and potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends.

“They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events. However, what people do within the dating feature will not be shown to their friends. We’ll share more information when this begins testing later this year.”

Following the announcement, Match – which owns Match.com, Tinder and OKCupid – shares dropped by 21%.

Would you trust Facebook to arrange your online dates without spilling the beans to third parties? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.