Facebook Dating App | How User’s Use the Facebook Dating App: The second-least-sexy (after LinkedIn) social media app has formally joined the business of passion. Facebook Dating, which has existed since last year in other countries, was introduced today in the US in the expectation that Facebook will be able to compete with existing dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid.
How’s Facebook Dating going to work? It’s complicated to use your own vocabulary on Facebook. While several have noticed the aesthetic similarities between its interface, which is accessible inside the standard Facebook mobile app (in a separate tab) for users 18 and older, and that of the dating app Hinge, the fact that Facebook is already part of the lives of people, whether they are trying to date or not, makes things a bit unusual.
By making Dating as distinct as possible from its daily app, Facebook is trying to clear several of those obstacles. Users have to opt into the program first and foremost, then build an entirely different profile. Facebook Dating, in particular, does not show users their friends on Facebook, and also allows people the opportunity to exclude friends from their future matches. On Facebook, you can even block unique individuals from seeing your dating profile. Users will, however, alert each other without first matching.
Then there is a whole “Secret Crush” thing where you can add up to nine (!) Facebook friends or Instagram followers to a group, and you’ll both be alerted if they secretly crush you back. (The tool only works if both parties have Facebook Dating profiles set up; if you add his Instagram account to your Hidden Crush list, Timothée Chalamet will not be alerted, and even then you can do so only if you are followed by Timothée Chalamet.)
Today also marks the beginning of the convergence of Facebook Dating with Instagram, which Facebook owns. Daters can now explicitly add their Instagram posts to their profiles (which people on Tinder and Hinge have already been able to do) and add Instagram followers to their Hidden Crush list. Facebook promises that by the end of the year, it will have the option to add Instagram stories to profiles.
But the issue of whether Facebook is ready to manage far more potentially even more intimate personal data is a major one, with a $5 billion Federal Trade Commission fine resolved in July over privacy issues, the highest penalty ever against a tech firm, and a fresh antitrust investigation pending.
Facebook Dating says it matches people based on what they like. But there’s obviously more to the story.
Facebook Dating is free for a reason, nor does it show you ads: Facebook is not yet making money on it. “Facebook seems content to allow Dating to serve as another reason for young people to open the app and allow Facebook into their personal lives, as Recode notes.”
But Facebook Dating would also obtain even more data from users of Facebook, data that is likely to be more personal, up-to-date, and important to what people really like and think. That’s basically Facebook Dating’s sales pitch: Facebook has more data on you, so they’ll pair you with a better match. “The first line of the press release reads, “Facebook Dating makes it easier to find love with what you want, helping you start meaningful relationships through things that you have in common, like interests, activities, and groups.
Of course, how precisely the algorithm operates is a mystery. Facebook Dating product manager Nathan Sharp told TechCrunch, aside from gender preferences, venue, and “interests and other things you do on Facebook,” that, for example, you might match up with an alumnus from the same school, even though none of you included that school on your dating profiles.
However, as TechCrunch writer Sarah Perez reports, Facebook clearly has far more important data on individuals outside their alma mater. “You may write on Tinder that you “love hiking,” but Facebook would know if you were actually involved in groups or events related to hiking, and how often,” she writes. “It may also know a lot more, such as your hiking trails check-ins, if there are mountains in your pictures, if you shared notifications with the keyword “hiking,” if you “liked” hiking Facebook pages, etc. But Facebook won’t confirm whether or how this form of data is used.
Facebook Dating doesn’t exactly consider how people actually use Facebook
Aside from data privacy problems, the nature of Facebook Dating is confusing for another reason: Instagram is an app that is objectively hornier. Its reputation as a haven for the young, affluent, and beautiful makes it the most probable dating destination, considering the DM slide is already a method of firing your shot with a potential date that is commonly used.
On Twitter, the knowledge reporter Alex Heath posted that it is because “FB really wants the blue app to be about connections between friends/people and wants IG to lean more into brands/celebrities.” That would seem to jibe with the shift of Facebook’s 2018 algorithm to its News Feed, which prioritized friends and community notifications over news articles and videos (which in turn helped lead to a major upheaval in the news feed).
Plus, now why? The Relationship Status feature was the topic of several cultural discussions as Facebook gained prominence after spreading to individuals beyond college students in 2006; it gave rise to the word “Facebook Official” for those who were finally prepared to announce their marriage to the world. The “Poke” was there, straddling the line between flirty and scary (somehow, Poking still exists). And it was soon imbued with myths around middle-aged married people reconnecting with high school mates and cheating on their wives with old flames as Facebook became the first social networking account for many adults. If Facebook Dating was ever going to be a thing, at the very beginning, it seems like it should have happened.
One of the great ironies for me is that when many of us entered the very first version of the app in 2004, back when it was only a handful of college students, we were persuaded that dating would be the next feature Facebook was going to introduce,” Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said at a conference in May 2018. Even Facebook admits this: “One of the great ironies for me is that. “Just 14 years too early, we were right.”
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Will people actually use it?
Facebook Dating, despite its lateness to the game, would tap into a wildly lucrative market. Analysts predict the market will be worth $12 billion by 2020, and last year, Match Company, which owns almost all of the most successful dating apps except Bumble, pulled in revenue of $1.7 billion. And maybe the kinds of users who are turned off by other dating apps will be judged by Facebook Dating, whether due to age or preconceptions regarding their hookup-oriented existence.
Although Facebook said it was not planning to make money on Facebook Dating, Kurt Wagner of Recode estimated that it could be a multibillion-dollar company. “Facebook managers say there are 200 million people on Facebook who identify as ‘single.’ That’s a relatively small percentage of the total monthly Facebook users of 2.2 billion, but for a dating service, it’s a huge potential audience,” he writes. Meanwhile, Tinder has 3.8 million paid subscribers, and it would exceed that if only 2 percent of its single users joined Facebook Dating.
And as Kaitlyn Tiffany observed for Vox, for one very important reason, Facebook Dating may have a big leg up on other dating apps: by allowing users the opportunity to exclude friends from their match pool, they can prevent the weirdness of seeing ex-boyfriends of their former colleagues and friends.
Facebook reports that there have already been engagements and marriages between individuals on the app, and as Casey Newton of The Verge notes, “the fact that Facebook has brought the product to 20 nations in less than a year indicates that it has been popular with early users.” In another potential indication of the popularity of Facebook Dating, Match Group shares have fallen 4 percent today. It seems unlikely whether there has been a huge rush to uninstall Tinder profiles in favor of Facebook Dating, but maybe that is what Facebook is counting on the users who have never downloaded Tinder in the first place.