According to a recent report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered moving the company into the online dating world in 2014 but instead chose to give Tinder and similar dating apps special access to Facebook user data.
Mashable reports that leaked documents that were released last week as part of an ongoing lawsuit between Facebook and the now-defunct app firm Six4Three show that Facebook gave apps such as Tinder special access to user data. Facebook stopped third-party apps from accessing user data in 2014 and gave apps until May 2015 to comply with the platform’s new policy, but some apps receive a “whitelist” privilege which allowed them to continue to access user data, including Tinder.
A leaked email exchange from March of 2015 shows that Tinder was given special permissions in exchange for giving Facebook permission to share rights in Tinder’s trademark “MOMENTS.” The dating apps Bumble, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel, were all whitelisted also “because they are getting high profile,” according to the exchange.
But one year prior, Zuckerberg stated that he believed that Facebook was a better dating app than apps such as Tinder or Match.com. Zuckerberg stated that he believes that there are two types of dating apps, one designed to match people together to date which Tinder and Match.com do, and another which can be used for dating but is not necessarily designed for that task such as Facebook. In an email sent in January 2014, Zuckerberg stated: “I actually think the second is far more valuable and useful if it can be created.”
He went on to state: “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.”
In the same month, Zuckerberg declined to meet with the co-founder of Tinder, Sean Rad, stating in an email: “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.”
Five years after Zuckerberg stated he believes that Facebook is a superior dating service, in September of 2019. Tinder contacted Mashable with a statement that reads: “Tinder resolved the trademark dispute with Facebook years ago. Tinder never received any special treatment, data or access related to this dispute or its resolution.” Facebook declined to comment on the situation.