STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Can users trust Facebook to find love?

Facebook unveils new privacy options... and a dating service. Charles Arthur explains the timing of the new dating feature, and why Facebook needs to be wary.

Posted: May 2, 2018 9:26 PM
Updated: May 2, 2018 9:37 PM

Think what you will about Facebook's intrusions into your privacy, but the all-knowing social media network appears to have hit on a feature that could use that power for good, and help a significant cohort of its users: singles. On Tuesday, the social network announced it has started a matchmaking service.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the feature is "for building real long-term relationships, not just hookups." Users who choose to participate will click on a heart icon on their profiles, where they'll be prompted to set up dating profiles, choose nearby events to go to, see the profiles of other singles who are also attending and start communicating with those people.

The fact is, this could well be news you can use.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development -- one of the longest studies of humans ever conducted -- found that good relationships are one of the most important contributors to our health and happiness. And there's probably no organization on earth better positioned to -- potentially -- do that by leveraging what it knows about users who are singles.

Still, after the revelations in March that a political consulting firm hired by President Donald Trump's campaign accessed the Facebook data of tens of millions of users without their permission, many of us have become rightly concerned about how much Facebook knows about us -- and what it does with that information.

But here's a scenario in which all that "intelligence" can stand to really benefit Facebook's users. If you use the social network avidly, you can be sure it already "gets" you in uncanny ways.

One study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Cambridge found that data from Facebook could be used to understand a person's personality with greater accuracy than could the personal knowledge of that person by their own family and friends. A data scientist at Facebook found he could also predict with accuracy which relationships among Facebook users would last.

If Facebook harnesses its data and analytical prowess to match people whose personalities, interests and values are compatible, the company could help them find truly well-suited partners -- better mates even (possibly) than the users might pick themselves. A Match.com study, for example, found that the kinds of matches that people were actually interested in turned out to be different from the kinds of matches they thought interested them.

Facebook says its new feature won't be matching people who are already Facebook friends. That's an important privacy feature and makes sense, since friends presumably know one another anyway.

But there is something that would make this service better: allowing users to see friends of their friends. It could make dating a bit safer and more comfortable -- and encourage better behavior -- if people meeting for the first time had friends in common. And it's at least possible, if not probable, that people with common friends would be more likely to get along, have similar values and interests, and so on.

Facebook's practices have earned it censure and the wariness of its users. Many have abandoned it altogether. But this new feature is an example of exactly how the social network should be using the information we share -- to help users make their lives fuller, happier and healthier.

It's a service I bet a lot of people will like.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295001

Reported Deaths: 3535
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin624331107
Ramsey26238493
Anoka20851224
Dakota20527189
Stearns13245106
Washington13220111
St. Louis8141108
Scott798154
Wright720338
Olmsted639934
Sherburne552241
Clay473356
Carver443213
Blue Earth395813
Rice393335
Kandiyohi378719
Crow Wing344731
Nobles301429
Chisago29799
Otter Tail288820
Benton285847
Winona266629
Mower248523
Douglas242235
Polk238223
Morrison224027
Lyon206711
Beltrami202517
McLeod198511
Becker194015
Goodhue190628
Steele18336
Itasca179123
Isanti179016
Todd173912
Carlton170414
Nicollet154925
Freeborn14795
Mille Lacs145131
Le Sueur141111
Waseca135911
Cass133310
Brown131215
Pine12788
Meeker11638
Roseau11074
Hubbard107523
Martin105520
Wabasha9941
Redwood87518
Dodge8230
Chippewa8157
Watonwan8104
Cottonwood7942
Renville77322
Sibley7564
Wadena7476
Aitkin71729
Rock7149
Pipestone69618
Houston6534
Fillmore6510
Yellow Medicine61511
Pennington6137
Murray5623
Kanabec55713
Swift5448
Faribault5251
Pope5071
Clearwater4817
Stevens4813
Jackson4581
Marshall4508
Lake3916
Unassigned38659
Koochiching3675
Wilkin3605
Lac qui Parle3513
Lincoln3331
Norman3307
Big Stone2962
Mahnomen2834
Grant2566
Red Lake2033
Kittson2027
Traverse1391
Lake of the Woods941
Cook630

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 223783

Reported Deaths: 2330
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33166333
Linn13991164
Scott1100384
Black Hawk10795134
Woodbury10255124
Johnson940036
Dubuque913491
Story674921
Dallas629057
Pottawattamie617069
Sioux366725
Webster357033
Cerro Gordo349644
Marshall346345
Clinton322840
Buena Vista302214
Muscatine282668
Des Moines282419
Warren276411
Plymouth270641
Wapello251571
Jones228413
Jasper214643
Marion202919
Lee199416
Carroll196422
Bremer192612
Henry18107
Crawford174115
Benton167418
Tama153340
Jackson143013
Delaware141021
Washington138214
Dickinson135810
Boone134811
Mahaska126127
Wright12226
Buchanan115410
Clay11504
Hardin114010
Page11144
Hamilton11009
Clayton10875
Harrison106629
Cedar106213
Calhoun10607
Kossuth10426
Floyd103916
Mills10297
Fayette102210
Lyon10188
Butler9916
Poweshiek98213
Winneshiek95812
Iowa93012
Winnebago91323
Hancock8547
Louisa84916
Grundy84611
Chickasaw8424
Sac8407
Cherokee8214
Cass80222
Allamakee79011
Appanoose77910
Mitchell7794
Humboldt7635
Shelby76111
Union7576
Emmet74924
Guthrie74115
Franklin73421
Jefferson7062
Madison6764
Palo Alto6474
Unassigned6470
Keokuk5777
Pocahontas5572
Howard5489
Greene5170
Osceola5171
Ida48113
Clarke4774
Taylor4603
Davis4548
Montgomery45011
Monroe43912
Adair4298
Monona4272
Fremont3553
Van Buren3545
Worth3540
Lucas3226
Decatur3160
Audubon2952
Wayne2957
Ringgold2082
Adams1652
Rochester
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Mason City
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 35°
Albert Lea
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Austin
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 34°
Charles City
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 31°
A Sunny and Mild Saturday Expected
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

MC 'grateful' to play, adjusting with schedule changes

Image

Small business Saturday

Image

Sean's Weather 11/28

Image

Sidelined in quarantine: Coach Fennelly talks about his experience away from the game

Image

Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru

Image

Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru

Image

Santa Claus Visits Rochester to Lead Drive-Thru Parade

Image

Aaron's Friday Evening Forecast

Image

Increased demand for real Christmas trees

Image

Santa visits Rochester for drive-thru parade

Community Events