Ever since sin was discovered, sex has been the most selling commodity over the centuries probably followed closely by drugs then fuel. Tech companies have not been blind to this and that’s why at the dawn of Internet and the world wide web there have been numerous “adult only” dating sites, porn sites, and match making websites all centered towards sex. The entertainment industry has not been blind to this either. Hollywood blockbusters like 12 Years a Slave, Wolf of Wall Street etc must feature vivid sex scenes to be popular. If a musician doesn’t have sex scenes in his/her video, gospel or otherwise, the music won’t sell – apparently.
Silicon Valley has come alive to this fact and in the last few years mobile apps meant to ease soliciting for sex have been the in thing. In mid last month, Bill Gates said that it is OK if half of Silicon Valley Startups are silly – that even though the bright brains behind the Startups do not major in coming up with solutions to sort out real world problems liking finding a cure to cancer, their involvement in selling sexting apps is still worth the investment.
Particularly he gave example of Facebook. Facebook was motivated, in a way, by sex. Facebook was initially a tool for college students to access photos of fellow students and rate them according to appeal, and since most students rated photos of the opposite sex, Facebook basically started as a sex fantasy forum but after not so many years, it has been able to help numerous business around the world expand and grow. Facebook has enabled others run fund raising campaigns for cancer treatments and even fight hunger in remote places.
In the past few years there have been a lot of outright sex soliciting apps going mainstream including the now infamous Tinder. As explained here, Tinder extracts a user’s information from Facebook and allows two users mostly of the opposite sex who are within 100Kms of each other to find one another and if they two coincidentally like each other, they can start a conversation most of which lead to sex.
Also read: A date made on tinder.
But the success of Tinder depends on Facebook. Tinder extracts users’ information from Facebook, including the profile photos even though it allows users to rewrite their brief bio info. What if Facebook just took away the “match-making” crown from Tinder to allow users who are near each other to also “see if they like one another” and get connected?
For instance you are in a restaurant waiting to be served but in the meantime you kill time by browsing through your your FB. You look up and notice this hot chic/dude seated over there , and you are sure s/he is on FB too, then you visit the Nearby People on Facebook, you get to check their profile out, and swipe them right as you would do on Tinder to express “I like you”. Is Facebook likely to introduce that feature on its mobile apps? The answer is a big yes.
You know privacy outcries has prevented Facebook from rolling out a number of products it could have liked to roll out including those that allow strangers to hook up without stress. But the introduction of the match-making apps like Tinder is making Facebook have second thoughts to rolling these features out. To venture into the sex industry, Facebook wants to start it low. That is instead of outright allowing strangers to like each other and potentially hook up, Mark has decided to first allow “Facebook Friends” (most whom are strangers to one another) to know when they are near each other e.g. by showing info such “John Doo is 2 Kms away” on a map, a feature he had decided to call Nearby Friends.
Over the next weeks and months Facebook will be rolling out a feature it calls Nearby Friends. This feature, which will be off by default, when turned on, will allow friends to know that you are near each other. What is the advantage of that?
There was this day I was in an hotel in down town Nairobi. After missing a flight, I started calling friends who could loan me quick cash so that I could top up and catch the next flight. One of my friends who ought to have been in Mombasa told me that he was in Nairobi and we could meet up and discuss my predicament a few hours later. We met, went to a restaurant and took early dinner, and after the discussion we were both off to our respective hotels…only to learn that we were actually in the same hotel, same floor with only three doors separating us! If Nearby Friends existed by that time, maybe I could not have missed the flight.
Although this feature is set to debut as an off feature by default, I’m very positive Facebook will turn the table and make it to be an on feature by default after testing the market in the first few months. This is because very few Facebook users will actually go into the trouble of turning Nearby Friends on when it launches so to avoid killing the feature, it will be turned to “on by default”. A few months after, I bet Facebook will consider showing users all Nearby Facebookers, not just friends, to any curious stalker out there and at that time, Facebook will be in the sex selling business just like the numerous sexting apps out there…and most probably they will buy Tinder.
Do you think life will be more exciting when Facebook starts selling sex?