Dating app Coffee Meets Bagel announced today that it is giving users another way to sign in, as some remain wary about connecting to apps with their Facebook accounts following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Coffee Meets Bagel users will now have the option to sign in by providing a phone number instead of a Facebook login. The change will begin rolling out today, and by August 20 all Android and iOS users will be able to choose between the two login options.
Dating apps have traditionally used Facebook as a login method because it’s an easy way to pull some of the information users would have to submit to fill out a dating profile — job, date of birth, and interests. Additionally, it gives dating apps a way to tell users how they may be connected to a potential match — say, through a friend of a Facebook friend.
Coffee Meets Bagel says it saw a 378 percent increase in the number of requests for alternative login options after the Cambridge Analytica news broke in March — though company cofounder and co-CEO Dawoon Kang told VentureBeat in a phone interview that the company didn’t receive that many requests for an alternative login option in the first place.
Kang said the company looked into three login options — by Gmail, LinkedIn, and phone number. She said that Coffee Meets Bagel was looking for a login option that would be convenient for the user and make it easy to catch users who are trying to create multiple accounts.
“What was preferred from the user side was Gmail, because everybody uses Gmail,” Kang said. “But … Gmail still has the problem [that] you can create multiple accounts … so we decided to go with the phone number.”
Kang said that Coffee Meets Bagel is also working with a third-party security firm that assigns its database of global phone numbers a risk score based on how likely it is the number is being used for fraud. For example, if a phone number has requested a passcode to a certain account in multiple languages, that may be a sign that it is being shared, and its risk score will go up. If a phone number has too high of a risk score, Coffee Meets Bagel may reject requests for an account from that number.
Competing dating app Bumble also allowed users to start signing up with a phone number four months ago, after news about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica broke. London news outlet the Guardian reported that Facebook failed to stop the now-defunct analytics firm Cambridge Analytica from improperly obtaining user data on up to 87 million Facebook users.
For anyone who missed it, Cambridge Analytica received the data from a researcher who had created an app that pulled data on Facebook users and their friends through a personality quiz. The situation left many users feeling unsettled about how easily apps could collect large swaths of data on them and use it for ad targeting and other purposes. As Kang notes, many Coffee Meets Bagel users are still comfortable using Gmail to log in — indicating that the skepticism may be specifically around how Facebook handles user data.