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Coffee Meets Bagel sees spike in users who don't want to log in with Facebook

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Coffee Meets Bagel on Wednesday announced an alternate way for users to log onto the dating app besides using Facebook (FB) — a move motivated by a spike in user requests following the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March.

Starting Wednesday and going into full effect by August 20, iOS and Android users of Coffee Meets Bagel can use their phone numbers to create an account and log into the app instead of using their Facebook accounts. Historically, the app has relied on a Facebook login for users to sign into the app to view their matches, which are sent every day at noon.

‘People are concerned about their data’

According to Coffee Meets Bagel CEO and co-founder Dawoon Kang, the dating service saw a 378% increase in requests from users following the news in mid-March that voting firm Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest the Facebook data of up to 87 million individuals. The rationale for most users who made the request: They no longer wanted to use Facebook to sign into Coffee Meets Bagel or they had outright deleted their Facebook accounts because of the scandal.

“People are mostly concerned about their data,” Kang explains to Yahoo Finance. “This data breach, which exposed users’ data to other third-party people, felt like an invasion of privacy in their minds.”

This news comes more than three months after Facebook announced it plans on eventually launching a dating service of its own. Since then, dating apps and sites appear to be distancing themselves from Facebook on the issue of privacy. Coffee Meets Bagel’s news is the latest in a series of dating apps that have rolled out alternative ways for users to log on without using their Facebook accounts, following on the heels of Bumble this April and Hinge in June. And this May, Tinder (MTCH) CEO Elie Seidman emphasized the differences between the popular dating app and Facebook, namely, that Tinder does not rely on advertising and the personal data that comes with that revenue stream.

Rooting out fake profiles

While Coffee Meets Bagel’s new login method allow users to keep their dating-related data separate from Facebook, using a phone number is also a more secure login method, contends Kang. He says that options like using Facebook or an email to log in pose a higher risk for people to create multiple fake accounts.

Indeed, Coffee Meets Bagel worked with Telesign, a firm that specializes in security for online identities, to roll out this feature in part to help root out fake user profiles. In a nutshell, the firm manages a unique global database of phone numbers that are scored based on whether those numbers were involved with scams or fraud: The higher the score, the more likely they’ve engaged in some kind of fraudulent activity. Numbers with higher scores are also less likely to be approved for Coffee Meets Bagel accounts.

In light of recent attempts by services like Coffee Meets Bagel, Susan Etlinger, an analyst with the San Francisco-based Altimeter Group, contends there’s an examination to be done around Facebook Login.

“I do think this question of single sign-on is part of a larger question we need to be asking of how we connect to apps in the future and whether we want Facebook to be the steward of all that data or whether we want individual apps to do it,” Etlinger says.

A number of websites give users the option of logging in through Facebook, including the document uploading site Scribd, OKCupid, Trip Advisor, Pinterest, and countless others. But users may think twice before they log in to third-party sites with their Facebook accounts, in light of recent security concerns.

For now at least, it seems Coffee Meets Bagels users have spoken.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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