MENLO PARK,CA- Facebook introduced a new dating feature to its platform this month, throwing the world’s largest social media network into the booming online dating industry.
Mark Zuckerberg, the platform’s CEO, unveiled the development on May 1st during Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference. The feature, he said, would be available on the Facebook app and would focus on connecting users through events that both might enjoy, instead of pairing them randomly.
Zuckerberg, aware of the current controversy surrounding his company’s privacy policies after several scandals, made sure to emphasize that “we have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning” and that “you are only going to be suggested people [who are] not your friends, who have opted into dating, who have fit your preferences.”
While problems with privacy on the internet have gripped most of the country, many Woodside students’ issues with the new feature have less to do with privacy and more with the platform on which is functions.
Jade Jones, a Woodside senior, admits, “The idea [for the app] sounds right, but I don’t think that it would be used. It’s Facebook; no one uses Facebook anymore… For older people who might be dating, I guess be nice, but not for younger teens.”
Aside from the social media platform’s relative lack of popularity among Woodsiders, some also feel that there are simply too many online dating services out there already; the new service is competing within an already-saturated market.
“There’s already a lot of dating sites and I feel like the Facebook one is just another [version of the others]. It’s just kind of weird,” junior Alex Kastelein told the Paw Print.
However, many students that do use Facebook often are thrilled by the idea of expanding the platform’s functions to make it a one-stop destination for all of their internet needs.
“I guess it could be nice just because it’s on Facebook,” senior Macie Nessi explains, adding, “It’s a dating app and social media, so you can check out other people all in one place and you don’t have to use multiple apps to do it, so it seems [more] centralized.”
Still others feel that using a familiar platform for online dating completely changes the mood of the environment in which they hope to meet new people.
“I feel like some people are embarrassed to use dating apps, so this is kind of a nice platform, where [one] doesn’t feel pressured and there’s much less stress associated with it,” Devon Diller, also a senior, says. She adds, “Whatever you put in, you get out.”
As Facebook unveils its new program, Woodsiders have begun to think more about online dating as a concept. According to Pew Research, its popularity has exploded within the last decade. As of 2015, 5% of Americans in marriages or committed relationships say that they first met online, a staggering number in a country of over 320 million people.
“I think that [online dating] is really big now and that people really rely on it,” Jones admits, reflecting its rise in popularity among young people specifically.
Not all high schoolers see online dating as a positive influence on youths and admit that it has skewed how many in their generation love and meet one another.
“It just takes away from the human contact,” Kastelein adds, saying, “There’s just such a big difference between texting somebody on a dating app and then actually meeting somebody at a bar or something like that, where you start up a conversation by actually talking to them.”
Although students manage to stay informed about developments in the world around them, they also think about the social implications of technological advancements and consider how they as young people could be influenced by them.
Kastelein finishes his thoughts about Facebook’s dating feature, admitting ruefully, “I think that it can inhibit social contact.”