10.10.18 | Likes | Comments|
The evolution of online dating is a mix of visual design upgrades, algorithm updates, and options for different types of relationships. The latest news to hit the online dating market is that Facebook has officially started to develop an online dating service. In May of 2018, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced this plan at the Facebook F8 Developer Conference. Experts suggest that a Facebook dating service could pose a serious threat to other big players like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid. In fact, on the day Facebook announced their plan, the stock of Match Group (the owner of OkCupid and Tinder), fell a staggering 17%. This signals that online dating might be in for a shift.
What does this new development in dating mean for the state of online dating today? With just a few clicks, you could use a platform you probably already frequent to create a dating profile and connect with singles near you. The service is not yet available for general use. It started off with internal U.S. Facebook employee beta testing only, and Facebook has since launched a limited beta version in Colombia in South America.
With over one billion active users, Facebook is by far the largest social media platform in the world. At the F8 Conference, Mark Zuckerberg stated there over 200 million Facebook users who currently list themselves as single. The Facebook founder also noted that the intention of the new app is “not just for hook-ups,” but rather it’s designed for users to create “meaningful, long-term relationships.” Since the tech company plans to integrate their dating service within Facebook and not create a separate application, there’s already a massive userbase.
If you’re already in a committed relationship, there’s no need to worry. The dating feature will be optional, and you can activate it at your own discretion. When you do activate the service, only the other people using the dating feature can see you. Facebook plans to keep the dating platform as discrete as possible, without exposing anything intertwined with Facebook dating on your newsfeed. A recent study done in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom asked 672 internet users if they would partake in a Facebook dating app, and 63% of them said no. These initial numbers suggest that most people may prefer to keep their Facebook profile as far away as possible from dating applications.
When Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s plan to release the dating service, he made it clear that privacy was a big concern. The intention is that your family, friends, and co-workers won’t see your profile. Instead of randomly swiping left and right to find a match, the platform will calculate compatibility using your answers to a series of questions and your Facebook data.
If you already have a Facebook profile, you’re one step closer to joining the Facebook dating service. The good news is, you won’t have to download a separate application to access the platform. Facebook plans on adding a heart-shaped button at the top right-hand side of the platform that will take you to the dating service. The Menlo Park-based company isn’t just rolling out the service for heterosexual and cis-gender individuals, either. Facebook plans to have options for non-binary, transgender, and non-heterosexual profiles. To ensure the safety of all users, Facebook will not permit anyone under 18 years of age to access the dating portion of the application. Following the F8 Conference, the company also announced that they plan to spin off the dating service and launch similar, social applications.
Since the application isn’t available in the United Kingdom or the United States yet, the logistics behind the profiles are not 100% clear yet. With that said, a screenshot published by Facebook employee Jane Manchun Wong does reveal a handful of questions Facebook asks when setting up your dating profile. Some of the questions d include your current city, your gender, and what gender you’re interested in.
Like Tinder and Bumble, it appears that Facebook has taken a progressive approach to their dating product, with trans and non-binary options for describing both your own gender and the gender you’re interested in. When you set up your profile, you’ll also see who can access and view your profile, ensuring that your dating life is as private as you want it to be.
There’s no swiping on the Facebook dating app, but rather the option to express interest in someone that catches your eye. Instead of endless questions upon signing up, Facebook uses the data that they already have on you to find potential matches. Only those who are also using the dating service will be able to see your profile, excluding your Facebook friends if you opt for that privacy setting.
According to Wong, one of the coders behind the Facebook dating app, developers are also working on a feature called “Conversation Starter” to help users break the ice. To prevent spam, Facebook plans to put in a limit on how many people you can match with per day (a feature already implemented on Tinder). Facebook is also not planning to allow users to exchange photos, at least in the beginning, following in the path of Tinder and other competitors.
To connect with people who have similar interests, you’ll have the opportunity to unlock groups and events you’re a part of to see potential dating matches. Once you start to accumulate matches, you can filter them on age, religion, and even height. At this time, there won’t be a separate messenger for you to chat with your matches. App users can chat with their matches via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
Shortly after Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s plan to enter the dating market, the company started to carry out internal testing in the United States. Several employees of the California-based tech company created profiles with fake data to engage in a process known as “dog-feeding.” Dog-feeding is tech lingo for when employees use apps to test usability and pinpoint coding flukes before the company releases a beta version. Once the program goes public worldwide, Facebook will simultaneously delete all the dummy profiles created by their employees.
In September of 2018, Facebook started to publicly test the dating service in Colombia. It’s no coincidence that Facebook selected this Latin America country of 50 million people as their guinea pig. Colombians are notorious for being avid users of social media platforms to find romantic partners. According to the company, 21 million people there log in to Facebook on a given day. This makes it a good country for Facebook to test the waters without going overboard.
If the initial release proves to be successful in Colombia, Facebook plans to roll out the dating platform in larger markets, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. As of this time, Facebook has yet to announce a launch date in any other country.
As Zuckerberg mentioned at the conference, Facebook plans to differentiate itself from other dating apps by gearing it towards long-term relationships rather than hook-ups. Match Group, the parent company of Tinder and PlentyOfFish, has some serious competition coming their way if the Facebook dating app takes off. Mandy Ginsberg, Match Group’s CEO, doesn’t see Facebook as a threat. “The vast majority of singles would not want to use Facebook for dating primarily due to concerns with data and personal privacy,” she stated. Regardless of this CEO’s opinion, her company’s stock price dropped significantly after the Facebook announcement.
The big difference between Facebook and other dating apps such as Zoosk or eHarmony is that Facebook uses data it already has on you to determine potential matches. This is unlike the process of asking heaps of questions upon signing up as other apps do. The wealth of information that Facebook has means they could contend with Match’s scientifically backed matching algorithm.
In addition to complex algorithms that will determine matches, Facebook also stresses privacy more than other apps. Privacy is a big concern for Facebook, especially after a data breach in September 2018 put the personal information of 50 million users in the hands of hackers.
When it comes to dating applications, people are very concerned about their most intimate details, such as their sexual interests, being breached. With one of the largest databases in the world, many people speculate about whether Facebook can maintain the same level of data integrity as its dating application counterparts.
Recent studies and trends show that more people are using online dating applications than ever. To keep up with the influx of users and market competition, many companies have had to revamp their platforms to stay up-to-date. With many established companies already retaining a strong foothold in the dating market, Facebook needs to set itself apart from the competition. The powerhouse company has already dominated the social media world, crushing nearly extinct websites such as Myspace and MeetMe.
There’s no information about if and when Facebook will release their dating tool to the public. Provided that the testing is successful in Colombia, Facebook will likely have to undergo months of tweaking to perfect the app before it shows up in larger markets. But if Facebook does decide to launch its dating service across the world, it could certainly revolutionize dating as we know it. A lot of questions remain, such as: will face of the online dating industry as we know it change forever?
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