Could launching a dating service help restore users’ faith in Facebook after the data scandal?

Debate between Beatrice Timpson and Arno Robbertse – City A.M.
3 May 2018

Beatrice Timpson, director at Media Intelligence Partners, says YES.

Facebook takes data harvested from us (“dumb fools”, as Mark Zuckerberg sort of referred to us, only he used a different four-letter word beginning with “f”), and sells it on to third parties.

We all knew this, we just looked away and went “laaah” loudly, until the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal reminded us how dumb we are when it comes to protecting our privacy.

That ill-advised “like” for the royal family which unleashed a deluge of monarchy-inspired tat spilling down my newsfeed. That joke to a friend about Thai massages which prompted an unspeakable offer from an insalubrious salon in SE17. So far, so useless. And also a bit creepy.

But what if Facebook introduced us to the love of our life? The yin to our yang, the cream in our coffee, the Philip to Her Majesty the Queen.

Well, in that case, Facebook is a born-again Cupid. All is forgiven and let him take whatever data he needs. For love is blind, and lovers cannot see.

Arno Robbertse, cyber security director at ITC Secure, says NO.

Facebook is a multi-billion dollar business, offering a free service. The news about its relationship with data companies like Cambridge Analytica confirmed what some have known for a while: the scale to which social networking sites have been profiting from the personal data of their users.

Facebook absolutely cares more about making money than our privacy.

Now Mark Zuckerberg is attempting to restore faith in Facebook’s privacy controls by asking users to share even more intimate personal data? Data which could be extremely embarrassing if it were ever exposed (think of the Ashley Madison hack in 2015).

Launching a dating service may reestablish Facebook in its original target market of 20-somethings, but it should not restore our faith that the social network cares about our privacy.

It might even make users think twice about clicking that convenient “Login with Facebook” button on other sites, and blindly sharing sensitive data with third parties, which will negatively impact Facebook’s proliferation further.