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Love at first like: Facebook to add 'secret crush' feature as part of revamp of social network

The company is planning an overhaul of its app and website.

Image: Shutterstock/Wachiwit

FACEBOOK HAS ANNOUNCED it will add new dating and friend-making features to the social network as part of an overhaul of its service.

The company announced yesterday that it will focus more on smaller groups and on allowing users to take part in communities of people with common interests.

The head of Facebook’s new app Fidji Simo told AFP ahead that the redesign was part of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s “bigger vision” for the social network.

According to the company, the new design will give users more options for private and group connections, and potentially bring people with opposing political viewpoints together rather than separating them in “filter bubbles”.

“We are seeing that groups can bridge people across dividing lines,” Simo said.

“If you are a dog lover, you will find people who are dog lovers across all divides, political or otherwise,” she added.

Among the new features on the network will be an option to “Meet New Friends”, which will let users opt-in to get acquainted with others interested in making new connections.

An “Events” tab will also aim to make real-world plans with online friends easier, while the company also said it will expand its dating feature to 14 countries, including the Philippines, Singapore, Brazil and Chile.

A new feature called “Secret Crush” will let people signal which friends they are interested in romantically on a private list, only letting the object of their fancy know if the feeling is mutual.

“We think there is a lot of potential in developing these relationships,” Simo said.

“It’s all built with privacy in mind, and with the goal of building meaningfully long-term relationships and not just hookups.”

The ability for people in small groups to be able to communicate securely and privately is seen as essential to making the social network more intimate.

“As the world gets bigger and more connected, we need that sense of intimacy more than ever,” Zuckerberg said as he opened the F8 developer conference for the social networking giant.

“That’s why I believe the future is private.”

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The shift appears to be a response to criticism over the company’s failure to prevent misinformation and missteps on how it handles private user data.

“It can be hard to find your sense of purpose when you are connected to billions of people at the same time,” Zuckerberg said.

“Privacy gives us the freedom to be ourselves.”

The redesigned app, which will be followed by a new Facebook website, will symbolise changes in how Facebook runs its business, Zuckerberg said.

“I know we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly,” he added. “But I am committed to starting a new chapter for our product.”

With additional reporting from - © AFP 2019

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