Facebook Dating Is A Thing Now
In a world of fast-paced lifestyles and 60+hour work weeks, there is very little time to go searching for a soulmate. For this reason, many of us have turned to dating apps to help us in our journey to finding a meaningful relationship. Though every application and platform has its flaws, Facebook Dating has presented a semi-unique approach to its concept of online dating and (through my research) seems to of tailored the vibe of its features to be more inclusive than I have seen in others.
As someone who has been on Facebook for over a decade and has experience with dating apps in the past, I was surprised I had not heard of this feature on Facebook until recently, despite its launch in September of 2019. As I stumbled across the application itself and the offerings that existed within the app, I thought it might be something those actively seeking meaningful connections, but are short on time, see as a potential solution.
Facebook has long been the place where everyone from college students to divorcées scope out their romantic interests. Well, as of 2019, Facebook users in the United States can officially use the social network as a dating service. The service comes complete with specialized profiles, a matchmaking algorithm, and several other features. After beginning its roll-out in over a dozen other countries the year prior, it has since made its debut in the states. Facebook dating gives users (ages 18 and up) access to a suite of features designed to help them find a meaningful relationship.
Many of the features appear similar to those on other dating apps, but of course, there is a very specific feature to Facebook — its extensive cache of data as it relates to you and your friends on the platform.
Though Facebook Dating lives within the existing Facebook app, to use it, you need to set up a separate profile. Most of the profile information you will input yourself, as the only data that carries over is your name and age. Its matchmaking algorithm begins with suggesting matches based on your location and any preferences indicated when setting up the profile. One of the features getting positive attention is the option to match with people who attend the same Facebook events as you or those who are a part of the same Facebook group. One thing it won’t show you are your existing Facebook friends (that option is turned off by default).
Facebook Dating will live as a tab within Facebook’s main menu on mobile. When you first set up your profile, Facebook will ask you to specify your gender and the gender(s) of the people you’re interested in. Your gender identity won’t be shared with potential matches. You can express interest in “everyone,” “women,” “men,” “trans women,” or “trans men.” You can also fill in details like your height, religion, job title, place of work, where you went to school, and whether or not you have children.
You can complete your profile by adding up to a total of nine photos and include an ice-breaker question provided by Facebook. These questions might be something like, “What does the perfect day look like for you?” or “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?”
Once your profile is set, Facebook will begin its matchmaking process and will use your preferences, interests, and various other actions you make on Facebook, to suggest potential matches for dates. These factors might be things like where you’re from, which Facebook groups you’re a part of, where you went to school, any significant affiliations, and whether or not you want the radius of potential matches to reach up to 100 miles from you.
Another unique feature of Facebook Dating is its decision to negate a ‘swipe right/left’ setup and instead, you have to like a person’s profile directly, answer one of their ice-breaker questions, or interact with some aspect of their profile, such as liking or commenting a photo. Something that I feel will save many of those interested in utilizing this feature frustration is its option to ‘re-view’ a person’s profile. Gone are the days where you believe you may have ‘accidentally swiped left on your soulmate.’
In addition to its launch, Facebook used this announcement to share additional security features that were being built into the platform. It has now also integrated Instagram, which should come as no surprise as they have been actively working to better connect the two for some time. Charmaine Hung, a Dating product manager at Facebook, shares her thoughts that “people are forced to make a decision off this one profile that never changes and is extremely curated.” This makes it difficult to offer an experience dynamic and authentic. That being said, users now have the opportunity to feature their Instagram posts on their dating profiles and their stories from social media profiles as well — both with either a permanent or 24-hour lifespan, depending on which of the two it is. This is a concept Tinder adopted as well in April of last year.
These next features offer a similar tune to the ‘Myspace Top 8’ for those of you who were a part of this social media boom in the earlier 2000s. Instagram has become part of a “Secret Crush” feature that allows users to select up to nine friends from their Facebook that they wish to express interest in. As long as the other person indicates they have a crush back, they can see where your preferences lie. If someone adds you to their Secret Crush list, you will receive a notification. If you then pick the same person for your list, Facebook will match you together and reveal your names to one another. If the feelings are one-sided, nothing happens.
Unique Safety Features
Certain dating apps, such as Hinge, have historically marketed themselves on their ability to match you with friends of friends — or people with whom you already have existing social ties. Facebook Dating allows you to do the exact opposite. You can now turn off the match setting for friends of friends. This is an ideal preference for those looking to date outside of their existing network.
Taking it a step further, this feature is believed to help many of those in the LGBTQ+ community, who are not yet out to members of their community, to comfortably enter the dating world. In addition, you can also block people from seeing your Facebook Dating profile, even if you want them to still have access to your Facebook or Instagram accounts.
Perhaps the most exciting safety feature offered by Facebook Dating is its ability to ‘share location’ with friends and family. For many, before meeting someone in person for the first time, they will let a friend or family member know about their plans for the day/evening and when to expect their return. Also, many have begun to use Apple’s “Find My Friend” feature to take extra precautions.
Well, Facebook Dating has taken it a step further where you are now can automatically open Messenger from the Dating platform itself and notify your person of choice of the name of the person you are going on a date with, where you will hang out, and the time you will be back. Then, fifteen minutes before the beginning of your disclosed time of date, that person will receive a notification reminder and will begin accessing your location in real-time. However, a difference is that unlike Apple’s Find My Friends, this feature of Facebook Dating defaults to just an hour of shared location time. While they work out the logistics, their thought is that they do not want individuals feeling like they have to (or accidentally sharing) their indefinite location in order to go out for a single evening.
In addition to the US, Facebook Dating is available in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam. Europeans are set to gain access to the service later this year.
This should be a tremendous opportunity for many and through the extensive research, the team at Facebook did to create this ever-changing platform, to meet the interests of the majority, is pretty interesting. Furthermore, Facebook sees this as a unique opportunity to gain more insight about their users. A recent study suggested that most individuals in their twenties have transitioned to other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, so in introducing further integration and broadening its audience of potential lovers, there will be a lot learned from the applications new service.