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Five things marketers need to know from Facebook’s F8 developer conference

Chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaking at F8

Despite dealing with the continued backlash from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook executives took to the stage on Tuesday (May 1) for the company’s annual developer conference in San Jose, California to give the public a glimpse of what’s in store for the year ahead.

During the talk, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook execs revealed the company's plans for a dating service, officially launched its standalone VR headset Oculus Go, and discussed how it plans to better protect users' privacy moving forward.

Below are five takeaways from the first day of the company's two-day conference.

Facebook infiltrates the dating space

Facebook is building a dating feature that it plans to begin testing later this year. Details about the dating service remain scant, but Zuckerberg said it would “be for building real, long-term relationships,” not just hook-ups.

Users of the service will be able to build a dating profile that’s separate from their main profile. Potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common and mutual friends. Users will also have the option to discover potential suitors with similar interests through their Facebook groups or events. Facebook says it will not show what people do within the dating feature to users' friends.

Instagram gets a makeover

Facebook-owned Instagram announced a number of new features and updates at the conference. The popular app is rolling video chat, which it said will be available to users in the “coming weeks.” The feature, which will support both one-on-one and group chats, will also give users the option to minimize the video and continue the chat while doing other things on Instagram.

In addition to video chat, Instagram announced that users will now also be able to post content from apps like Spotify and GoPro directly to Stories.

Instagram will also soon be rolling out a redesigned Explore page organized around topic channels like ‘animals,’ ‘photography’ and ‘architecture.’

WhatsApp gets group video chat

Messaging app WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, is adding group video chat to its platform as well. Facebook says the capability will be “coming in the months ahead.” Stickers will be coming to the app soon, too.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who sold the app to Facebook in 2014, left the company last month. Reports cite his concern over Facebook’s handling of user data as one of his reasons for leaving.

Facebook doubles down on privacy

In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook is trying to convince users that it does care about privacy on the platform.

Ahead of the conference, Zuckerberg announced plans for a ‘Clear History’ feature that will let users opt out of sharing browsing history data that Facebook uses to sell ads. According to Facebook, it will "remove identifying information so a history of the websites and apps" a user has used won’t be associated with their account. Facebook says it will take a few months to build the new setting.

Oculus Go is now available

Facebook announced that Oculus Go, the company's first standalone VR headset, is now available globally for $199. Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 in a bid to make its way into the VR space. The company is hoping this latest headset - which Oculus says has a "massive slate of games, experiences, and apps" - will help make VR more mainstream.

Oculus released a short video to mark the launch of Go, which can be viewed here.

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