Facebook has officially entered the dating game.
On Thursday, the social media giant launched a full-functioning dating app within its platform, allowing single or curious Facebook users to browse through profiles and even connect with friends of friends.
The company previously announced in May that it was interested in the online dating market, a market full of niche apps and powerhouses like Tinder and Bumble. And with 24 million active Facebook users every month in Canada, the company decided to make the country its first North American launch (the app has already launched in Colombia and Thailand).
“Canadians are highly social, familiar with the online dating space and tech-savvy,” said Charmaine Hung, technical program manager for Facebook. “We wanted to see by launching Facebook dating, could we extend the types of relationships people are building here?”
How the platform works
The platform is quite similar to apps that already exist in the online dating world, but some features are different. On Thursday, all Facebook users 18 and over will have access to Facebook Dating under their bookmarks section (the three lines) on their homepage, even if you’re not single.
If you are interested in browsing profiles, you must sign up through the platform and create an account. Facebook will show users your first name as well as your age. “Dating is so personal and private to people,” Hung said, adding creating dating accounts from real profiles will get rid of spam accounts or fake users.
The company also put an emphasis on preventing harassment, something overly common in the online dating world. When users decide they are “interested” in another user, they are only allowed to send them one text message. This prevents people from sending explicit pictures, spam messages or links.
Courtesy of Facebook
“We have a separate inbox in dating, not in Messenger,” she said. “We control the type of content .”
Once users fill out a questionnaire, add profile pictures and their preferences, they can search through other potential matches. Instead of swiping, the platform features “Interested” and “Pass” functionalities, and users must choose an aspect of a user’s profile to start a conversation. This is similar to other apps like Hinge.
Matches are suggested based on things you have in common and the site also features an opt-in event and group function that allows users to see singles in these networks. If you don’t want people to know which events you are attending, you can turn this feature off.
Other new features in Canada include “Second Look,” a function that allows users to go back and re-review people they accidentally have passed on (Bumble has a similar feature). Pause matching, which is something newer in the dating world, allows people to pause their account rather than deleting it or disabling it.
“Maybe you are getting too many messages from people, or perhaps you’ve connected with someone promising and would prefer to focus on the great conversations you’re already having. Pausing matching means you won’t get any more new suggested matches, nor would you be suggested to others as a new suggested match. But, you can still message and converse with people you were already talking to,” the company said in a statement to Global News.
Will people be interested?
Earlier this year the social media site made headlines after analytics firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data of more than 50 million Facebook users through a quiz posted by an academic. But polls showed users still had active accounts, despite privacy scandals in the past.
Online dating expert Carmelia Ray told Global News the biggest significance of Facebook entering the market is that it is already a brand users trust. “They are in a very unique position to enter the dating scene with a higher likelihood of succeeding,” she explained. The company also has access to data that includes how many people are listed as single worldwide (more than 200 million).
“They are presenting a solution to a need that already exists,” she said, adding Facebook’s access to data is the its biggest advantage. “Most people who are not in the dating business would have to spend millions of dollars on this research.”
Since most people in our networks already have Facebook accounts or are active Facebook users, people will definitely be interested in this app, she said. And in regard to privacy, she doesn’t see it being an issue for a brand like this one.
“People are already sharing so much about their personal life on Facebook and they’re accustomed to it.” For competitors already in the game, Ray believes this will keep them on their toes and paying attention. “Other apps will benefit from the research and user experience.”
Dating app overload
For anyone who online dates on multiple apps or platforms, the idea of adding one more to the mix can be overwhelming. Online dating fatigue is a real concern, Ray added, but for people who have a hard time finding long-term commitment, a new player in the game could be the answer.
“People who have tried everything will be the most motivated,” she said. “For the new person entering the space, I think they would be more comfortable to try an app because of the association .”
Either way, it’s a social experience she can’t wait to see.
“As we evolve with technology, there will always be a space and place for an app to come into the market that will actually make a meaningful connection.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.