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1 big thing: Facebook expands its dating pool

Photo: Facebook

Thursday Facebook will debut Facebook Dating in the U.S. after offering it for less than a year in some other countries. The company is also finally integrating the dating service with Instagram, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.

Why it matters: Facebook has 2.4 billion users around the world and is hoping a dating service will keep them around longer.

Between the lines: American millennials — arguably the group most coveted by dating apps — have increasingly shifted their time to Instagram over Facebook’s flagship app, and many already use it organically to contact or get noticed by potential mates. In other words: it's already millennial consumers' de facto online dating app.

Details: Instagram's role in Facebook's dating service will be limited for now to a "secret crush" feature and letting users link select photos from the app to their dating profiles (a feature rivals like Tinder and Bumble already offer).

  • Users can now declare a "secret crush" on Instagram followers as well as Facebook friends, and be notified if there's a mutual match. That only works, of course, with followers and friends who are also signed up for Facebook's dating product (and therefore have a Facebook account too).
  • Later this year, the company will add the ability for users to embed their Instagram and Facebook Stories into their profile.
  • Asked why the Instagram integration is so limited, product manager Nathan Sharp told Axios that the company is focused on creating a dating service for folks who want to find romantic relationships, adding that it has to take a global approach instead of being focused on one country.

Facebook also hopes to get some points from users for safety-related features, such as a recently added ability to share a date's location with close Facebook friends as a precaution.

  • If users choose to embed some of their Instagram photos into their dating profile, Facebook will hide their usernames to prevent other users from finding them on the photo-sharing app.
  • It also lets users block others and opt out of being matched with friends of friends, and says it has specially trained community support teams dedicated to its dating service.

What we don't know: How Facebook suggests potential matches to its online daters.

  • All dating apps and websites use information provided by users, from their location to their likes and dislikes, to suggest potential matches. However, Facebook potentially has more user data at its disposal than anyone else because it's been accumulating it from its users, often for years.
  • Sharp told Axios that Facebook suggests and ranks potential matches based on mutualities, using data from a user's dating profile and Facebook account, but declined to provide more detail.
  • The company also declined to share data about how the product has been faring in countries where it's already available.

Our thought bubble: Tinder, Bumble, and others likely don't have to worry too much about Facebook's dating service. But Facebook still has 244 million monthly active users across its apps in the U.S. and Canada, some of whom are already using those services to find potential mates.

Meanwhile: Facebook already has many people's phone numbers, and, thanks to Facebook, lots of other people do, too.

Go deeper: Facebook wants to be your matchmaker

2. Google to share its differential privacy tools

Google said today it will make freely available a set of tools to facilitate what is known as "differential privacy" — a technique for collecting personal information in such a way that the data can be used to draw conclusions while no users' information is personally identifiable. The tools are being released as open source software.

Why it matters: Big tech companies like Apple and Google tout the technique as a key means for protecting privacy while still making use of the benefits of machine learning. Google's move aims to make the technology more broadly available.

  • "Differentially-private data analysis is a principled approach that enables organizations to learn from the majority of their data while simultaneously ensuring that those results do not allow any individual's data to be distinguished or re-identified," Google said in a blog post.

Google said it has used differential privacy to do things like calculate a restaurant's most popular dishes or determine what hours of the day a store is busiest.

3. Samsung's Galaxy Fold goes on sale in Korea

Photo: Samsung

Samsung said Wednesday night that the delayed $2,000 Galaxy Fold will go on sale Friday in Korea and will be available in the U.S. "in the coming weeks."

The company had promised in July that the phone would ship this month, following design changes. The phone was delayed after several early reviewers found their devices failing within days.

Why it matters: Samsung and other phone makers are hoping foldable devices will usher in a new era for the once fast-growing but now stalled smartphone market, but so far things have gotten off to a rocky start.

4. YouTube changes policies after kids' privacy fine

YouTube says it's making 4 major changes to its policies, after settling with the Federal Trade Commission for $170 million for violating children's privacy laws, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: The changes announced by the video giant show that it's taking the problem of preventing further violations somewhat seriously, even if children's privacy advocates argue that the fine didn't go far enough.

What's new: YouTube says it will do more to promote its kids-specific app, YouTube Kids. In addition, starting in about 4 months:

  1. It will treat data from anyone watching children's content on its main site as if it came from a child, regardless of the viewer's actual age. This will limit data collection on those videos.
  2. It will stop running personalized ads on content made for kids.
  3. It will turn off comments and notifications on videos for kids.
  4. It will require creators to identify content made for kids.

What they're saying:

"In terms of YouTube's response, it's a good start. However expanding resources for YouTube Kids should just be the beginning."
— Dylan Collins, CEO of kids tech platform SuperAwesome
“[I]t's extremely disappointing that the FTC isn't requiring more substantive changes or doing more to hold Google accountable for harming children through years of illegal data collection."
— Josh Golin, Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood executive director

The big picture: YouTube says that while it knows a lot of families watch YouTube together, it recommends that kids watching video alone use the more highly regulated YouTube Kids app.

  • Yes, but: Experts argue that children avoid sites or apps designated specifically for them.

Go deeper:

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • Video conferencing firm Zoom is slated to release quarterly earnings.
  • It's also my parents' anniversary, and my mom has been through quite a last two weeks on the health front, so let me just say: Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Trading Places

  • Metromile is naming Sunil Rajaraman, entrepreneur and host of the podcast "This is Your Life in Silicon Valley," as its chief marketing officer.
  • Former BT chief Gavin Patterson is joining Salesforce as chairman for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
  • CompTIA has hired Dileep Srihari as vice president and senior policy counsel for public advocacy. Srihari spent the past 8 years at the Telecommunications Industry Association and, before that, worked at law firm WilmerHale and as a Senate staffer.

ICYMI

  • Twitter is temporarily suspending SMS-based tweets after CEO Jack Dorsey had his account compromised. (CNET)
  • Amazon announced a slew of new FireTV-based devices, including sounders, set-top boxes and and TVs. (The Verge)
  • MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte said he had recommended that the lab take Jeffrey Epstein's money, and "If you wind back the clock, I would still say, 'Take it.'" (MIT Technology Review)
After you Login

Nissan has designed an autonomous golf ball that can make even the toughest putt sinkable.