In recent years, apps such as Tinder and Bumble have become very popular, especially among millennials. There is now a new entrance in the online dating market in the form of Facebook Dating.
Facebook Dating was first announced at the F8 development conference in e year in Colombia. After rounds of beta testing in other countries including Canada and Mexico, it officially launched in the United States on .
Facebook Dating is not a separate app from Facebook. Rather it is accessed by creating a separate profile in the user’s current Facebook App. Users sign up by specifying their gender and the gender they are interested in being matched with, along with information such as height, religion, job title, where they went to school and whether they have children. The service allows users to upload up to nine photos as well as answers to ice breaker questions set by Facebook.
Users can see potential matches based on factors such as location and shared interests. Since the aim is to match users with new people, Facebook will not use their existing friends to form a pool of eligible dating candidates. However, they can be matched with people who attend the same Facebook events or are part of Facebook groups they currently belong to. Facebook can also match users with persons who are located within a certain radius of their location once their location feature is active.
In that event, both parties will be notified by Facebook Dating of their mutual interest in each other
Facebook Dating is a separate tab on the Facebook app but it is only available on the Facebook mobile app and not on the desktop site.
Furthermore, unlike apps such as Tinder which relies heavily on the swipe feature based on their attraction to a photograph, Facebook Dating does not have an instant swipe feature
Although Facebook Dating by default will not match you with your current Facebook friends, there is a Secret Crush feature that allows users to choose up to nine of the Facebook friends that they have a crush on. In the interest of privacy, those friends will not know that their names are entered unless they have a Facebook Dating profile and the user’s name appears on their Secret Crush list also.
The dating feature in Facebook relies on the vast amount of data Facebook collects from its users. Apart from information such as location and shared interests, Facebook can use data not shared on their dating profile to create matches. For example, according to Facebook Dating product manager Nathan Sharp, users may be matched with an alumnus of their school even if it was not placed in the dating profile of either party.
Data collected by Facebook during the years enables them to get a more accurate understanding of their users. This may be a considered a unique selling feature of Facebook Dating as compared to other apps that can rely only on what is entered in the profiles of their users. Instead, users will have to view the full profile of their match before being allowed to opt in or out. According to Sharp, “We didn’t want to include anything around swiping or games. Facebook Dating is about conversations.”
Research conducted by the company revealed that over forty percent of online daters are dissatisfied with their current dating app. Facebook Dating is hoping to resolve this problem by aiming for a more old fashioned matching system where people connect due to shared interests, clubs or mutual friends rather than the hookup culture prevalent in some apps.
There are also plans to incorporate, by year end, Instagram especially Instagram stories to create more dynamic and detailed profiles for users.
For users concerned with safety and security, the service allows them to report and block persons as well as prohibit people from sending photos, links and payments in messages to avoid online scams. Furthermore, users will be able to share the details of their upcoming date including the location through Messenger to a friend, if they so desire. That friend will also receive a reminder notification from Facebook fifteen minutes before the date happens as well access to the user’s location for up to an hour.
Currently, Facebook does not plan to show ads on its dating feature or to provide advertisers with data about users of the dating service.
The main benefit for Facebook in launching this service may be the ability to reclaim its hold in the younger demographic which has been leaving Facebook over the years. As that demographic may more likely be single, a dating service may be an attractive enough reason to stay on Facebook. With the move towards incorporating Instagram, which has retained its hold with millenniums, Facebook Dating may be the trick Facebook needs to remain relevant in that market.
There are concerns however, with Facebook ‘s ability to keep users information private. In ously settled a five billion dollars Federal Trade Commission fine and is still facing a new antitrust investigation into its privacy policies. Users will then have to determine whether they trust Facebook to secure even more intimate data about their lives.
With the recent launch of Facebook Dating, Facebook has entered into the crowded and competitive world of online dating. With its popularity waning in some demographics and recent issues with privacy, Facebook needs a way to connect with users and maintain their hold in the social media landscape. It is hoped that this service will remind users of the original purpose of Facebook which is to connect with friends and family and meet new people. It remains to be seen whether this new feature will be a success for the organization or whether users will choose to swipe left.