Facebook Gave User Data Access To Tinder And Other Dating Apps

Facebook launched its own dating feature in September of this year, five years after Zuckerberg noted Facebook’s superiority in the online dating sphere.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
A year prior, however, Zuckerberg stated that he thought Facebook was a better dating app than Tinder and Match.com. He said that there were two types of dating apps: one designed for the task of matching people, in which the latter two fell, and apps that can be used for dating but not designed for that task, in which Facebook fell. “I actually think the second is far more valuable and useful if it can be created,” Zuckerberg wrote in a January 2014 email.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg flirted with the idea of getting into the online dating business in 2014 — but instead gave Tinder and similar apps access to user data, leaked documents show. 

Facebook made the decision to stop third-party apps from accessing user data — such as friend lists and liked pages — in 2014 and gave most apps until May 2015 to comply to the new policy, according to Forbes. Some apps, however, received “whitelist” privileges to continue accessing the data. Tinder was one of them.

According to a leaked March 2015 email exchange, Tinder was given special permissions under the condition that the app permit Facebook to share rights in Tinder’s trademark of “MOMENTS.” Other dating apps, such as Bumble, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel, were also whitelisted; one reason given was “because they are getting high profile.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
“Historically, this is why Facebook has been so good for dating. It isn’t explicitly a dating service, so there’s no stigma to being a part of it. But once you’re there, a part of it can be used for dating. I’d bet that more dates and relationships start on Facebook than all of the other dating services combined,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The same month, the Facebook CEO declined to meet Tinder cofounder Rad. “No on wanting to meet the Tinder guy. I don’t think he’s that relevant. He probably just wants to make sure we won’t turn off their API, which we will adjust as part of our changes, and since we can’t talk about that the conversation will be awkward,” Zuckerberg said.

The documents shed light on how Facebook hoarded and doled out user data before the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Last year, Tinder crashed when Facebook made post-scandal damage control and changed its data policy once again.

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