If you’re single and on Facebook, it’s likely that you’ve already started seeing the ads. Facebook Dating is now live. Announced over a year ago, Facebook Dating has been a hotly debated topic in the realm of social media. For good or for ill, it’s now here.
Of course, social media has tried to tap into the dating game before — to varying degrees of success. Smartphone applications like Tinder and Bumble are both household names at this point. Knowing this, is it a smart move for Facebook to move into this space? Let’s take a look.
Online Dating: A Market on the Rise
Online dating generates $2 billion in revenue each year, and this revenue is only growing. Apps such as OKCupid, Tinder, Match.com, and Hinge have become a popular way for people to meet. With people being busier and less socially active, many people find it difficult to meet people outside of their own social sphere. Online dating gives them the opportunity to narrow down other singles based on their own filtered criteria.
Today, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 couples began through online dating. This is a huge market. Online dating platforms make money through premium accounts and through advertising. And it only makes sense for online dating platforms to cross over into social media, with so many people using social media today.
The Features of Facebook Dating
Facebook already tracks relationship status. Now, it can target single individuals for its dating platform. Would-be daters are able to create a separate profile, which is designed to match people up by their interests. And it makes sense that this would work. Facebook has almost unprecedented access to the population, as the most popular social media platform. It also tracks interests on a granular level.
Facebook users are going to be able to filter their matches, just like any other online dating platform. But Facebook will also be able to match users up based on their proximity to each other at events (with permission), which is something other platforms can’t do. Further, Facebook’s “secret crush” mechanic is going to make it possible for people to tag each other as crushes, only letting them know they’ve matched if both of them do so.
To expose users to people outside of their friend groups, Facebook focuses on introducing people who are outside of their social spheres. This is again something that Facebook can do uniquely. These unique features make it possible for Facebook Dating to capture a good portion of the online dating market, but it’s not without concerns.
The Potential for Drama
Some have pointed out that Facebook’s features may make it easier for cheaters. Since new profiles are created, Facebook users don’t need to worry about linking their primary account. Since Facebook users are, by default, connected to people they don’t know, there’s a lessened chance that they could get caught. But that all presumes that they wouldn’t create a fake profile to begin with.
A more significant concern is related to security. Facebook has already experienced a number of security breaches, the last of which was reported on just four days before Facebook Dating launched. Minor concerns could include the fact that “secret crushes” might not be so secret, while more significant concerns could relate to stalkers or potentially violent individuals finding out more than they should about the people they’re interested in.
What Can a Regular User Expect?
If you’re currently in a relationship, you shouldn’t see much change on your Facebook account. If you’re single, you’ll see regular prompts to join Facebook Dating, just like the prompts that ask you to join the Facebook Marketplace. Facebook has expanded its offerings substantially from its origins, and it now contains a multitude, including games and fundraisers.
Whether Facebook Dating is able to successfully supplant the other large dating sites is another issue entirely. Some people may not want to bring their dating experience so close to home: even with another profile involved, it means that they’ll be dating on the same platform they talk to their grandmother. Others may remain concerned about Facebook’s regular security risks.
Further, Facebook itself is waning in popularity. Facebook is now popular mostly among the older generations, and younger users (such as GenZ) are using platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram. Facebook Dating is one of the innovative features that Facebook is trying to use to bring people back, but it may end up being another Facebook Marketplace — another large, clunky module that gets niche use.