Facebook launches online dating service in United States

USA

Facebook is launching its dating service in the US, betting that its in-depth knowledge of users’ likes and habits will help singles find love.

The world’s largest social media platform, on which more than 200 million people list themselves as single, said Facebook Dating would launch in the US on Thursday to help daters start “meaningful relationships through things you have in common”.

The company said it hoped the opt-in service would give people “a more authentic look at who someone is”, by allowing users to integrate the interests, groups, events and photographs linked to their Facebook profile.

The roll-out of a Facebook-controlled alternative to popular dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble is likely to prompt debate, however, as the company struggles to combat rising concerns about the way it manages user data.

Facebook Dating, which was first launched in Colombia last year, asks users to create a separate dating profile, although the feature sits within the classic Facebook phone app. Users choose which photographs and personal details from their Facebook profile to include, though their first name and age are mandatory and unchangeable.

Daters may also add individual Facebook groups and events to their profiles, allowing them to see other singles – who have done the same and who match their partner preferences – with the same plans.

Potential matches

Friends are never suggested as potential matches. However, the app includes a Secret Crush feature that allows users to select up to nine people from among their Facebook friends, who will then receive a notification – if they have opted in to Facebook Dating – that an unnamed friend is interested in them. If one of the chosen people adds the original friend to their own list, both receive a notification.

Unlike the gamified “swiping” system in apps such as Tinder and Bumble – where users swipe left or right depending on whether they want to “match” with someone – Facebook asks people to click “yes” or “no” to potential dates, who appear in a list. Users can “like” or message anyone who appears, regardless of whether that person has liked them.

“If someone’s interested in you, you should know, because that’s what it’s like in real life,” said Charmaine Hung, product manager for Facebook Dating.

Facebook said Dating, which is now active in 20 countries, including the US, would be available in Europe by early 2020. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019

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