Earlier this year, Facebook revealed that it was working on Facebook Dating, a rival to the likes of Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. Four months after our first flirtations with the service, an in-development version of Facebook Dating has now started rolling out to a select group of users based in Colombia.
Here’s everything we know about Facebook Dating so far, including where it lives in the Facebook app and how it works.
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Facebook Dating: How to access it
Facebook Dating doesn’t have its own app. Instead, the service lives within the Facebook app (it’s currently not accessible through the Facebook site).
Somewhat strangely, it’s hidden behind the hamburger menu, which means you almost have to be looking for it in order to actually use it.
Facebook Dating: Your profile
Facebook Dating is only available to Facebook users who are at least 18 years old, and once you opt in to use it, you’ll need to create a Facebook Dating profile. Only your first name and age will be automatically transferred to your Facebook Dating profile from your main Facebook profile.
According to the Verge, you can add up to 12 pictures to your profile through the Android app, and up to nine through the iOS app.
You’ll need to fill your profile in with a short bio too, as well as (fairly nightmare-ish) answers to questions provided by Facebook. Questions like: “What does your perfect day look like?” Shudder.
Facebook Dating: How it works
The most surprising revelation is that Facebook Dating isn’t very much like Tinder at all. Instead of swiping to find matches, you have to tap people’s profiles to show you’re interested. You’ll also be prompted to answer questions on people’s profiles and send out messages.
You can find some examples in the screenshots above, posted earlier this year by independent app researcher Jane Manchun Wong.
You can message up to 100 different people per day, and you can only communicate using text or emoji. Yes, that means no nudity. When you receive a response, a private chatroom (not Facebook Messenger) will open up, and it’s time to work your magic.
None of your existing Facebook friends will appear as potential dates, nor will anybody you’ve blocked. Instead, you’ll be presented with a mix of friends of friends and complete strangers. You can search for dates within 100km of your current location, and Facebook will also consider factors like mutual friends, events, groups and page likes when serving up suggestions.
Facebook Dating: Should rivals be worried?
Data recently revealed that Tinder’s place at the top of the dating market seems pretty much unassailable. But if there’s anyone that could take it on, it’s surely Facebook.
Tinder’s huge success was making dating simple and accessible, while killing the social stigma that had previously dogged online dating. To that end, some 50 million-plus people use it every month, according to generally accepted estimates.
That’s impressive, but Facebook has over two billion members. And yes, many of those are in relationships, but Zuckerberg says that at least 200 million have checked the box labelled ‘single’, and that’s without even considering the millions of people who just haven’t bothered filling in their relationship status for whatever reason.
These singletons already have Facebook accounts, removing the slight barrier to entry that other dating apps face. It shouldn’t take much nudging on Facebook’s part to get users to activate their dating profile – especially as the company is keen to stress that friends won’t see your activity, and there’s no risk of being matched with people you already know.
On the day Facebook announced its intention to enter the dating game, stock of the Match Group – which owns OkCupid, Tinder and Match.com – fell a massive 17%. Rather than indicating pessimism, that could yet prove to be an optimistic take on the incoming disruption.
The opt-in feature will sit outside of the main news feed. However, we can presume Facebook will also leverage everything it knows about users to match them up.
In his keynote address, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the service aims to establish “real long-term relationships – not just hookups”. He added: “We want Facebook to be somewhere where you can start meaningful relationships. We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning.”
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In a blog post, the company elaborated: “We’re building a feature for dating and relationships within the Facebook app. People already use Facebook to meet new people, and we want to make that experience better. People will be able to create a dating profile that is separate from their Facebook profile — and potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends.
“They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events. However, what people do within the dating feature will not be shown to their friends. We’ll share more information when this begins testing later this year.”
Would you use Facebook for dating? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.