Feb 9, 2019

Facebook wants to be your matchmaker

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

With its 2.3 billion active users, Facebook is entering the online dating market.

What's new: The service hasn't been widely released yet but Facebook will soon add the ability for users to share a date's location with friends, an idea generated from user feedback.

How it works: “We didn’t want it to be about gamification or online credits… or other things that wouldn’t happen in person,” Nathan Sharp, who heads Facebook’s dating product, tells Axios.

  • Unlike on some other apps, users can browse other profiles but don't have to match before starting a conversation — similar to what happens in real life when someone has to take a chance and make the first move.

The app is already available to some users in Canada, Colombia, and Thailand, with more countries planned for the near future (Facebook wouldn't say where or when).

  • The company declined to share specific data about current usage, but says that belonging to the same Facebook groups or attending the same events tends to make users more comfortable reaching out to potential matches.
  • It hopes these groups can encourage users to actually set up meetings instead of just chatting indefinitely.

Despite starting with millions of potential users, Facebook’s dating service still faces challenges.

  • Because users have to opt-in, Facebook is asking them to sign up for the service before it actually flips the switch in their city so they can guarantee a sizable dating pool.
  • The company will inevitably have to decide whether — and how — to monetize the app.

The big question: Will disenchanted users want to come back to Facebook for its dating service and share even more personal data about themselves? Sharp thinks they will because a user's dating profile will be separate from their main Facebook profile.

  • But there are still skeptics. "[Millennials are] already having concerns with privacy issues," Justin McLeod, CEO of dating app Hinge, which used to require that users log in using their Facebook account, tells Axios. "So I don't imagine them handing over like the most private part of their lives over to them."

Go deeper: Our special report on the future of dating

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health