Facebook’s dating feature made its U.S. debut Thursday, after appearing in several other countries in the year since it was announced.
On Twitter, the overwhelming response was not hope and excitement over Facebook’s ability to introduce you to your soul mate, but rather dread and skepticism over the social network’s expansion into such an intimate endeavor. After all, Facebook doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to keeping people’s data private — and dating is an intensely personal pursuit.
Even though some people find lasting love on dating apps, there’s a strong current of frustration and fatigue that’s been building for years. Facebook’s version doesn’t seem to innovate or improve upon what’s already out there. Rather, it mimics other dating apps and appears to be a play to get people to spend even more time on an app that is already a giant time suck.
Before you create a Facebook Dating profile, let’s answer your questions about how this feature works.
If my Facebook profile shows that I’m single, will I automatically be shopped around as a potential romantic partner based on Facebook’s People You May Know feature?
No, but that’s a terrifying thought! You have to opt in to the feature and make a separate dating profile. Then you will be suggested to others who have also decided to use Facebook to date, the company said in a statement.
You won’t swipe through profiles, as you might on Tinder or Bumble. Rather, people will be suggested as matches “based on your preferences, interests and other things you do on Facebook,” the statement said. “If you are interested in someone, you can comment directly on their profile or tap on the Like button to let them know. If you aren’t interested, you can pass on them.”
The profile-liking is similar to the way Hinge works, wherein users don’t swipe left or right on profiles — instead, they can “like” people’s photos or respond to their conversation starters.
If I opt in, will my Facebook friends see that I’m on the prowl?
Unlike other dating apps in which it’s common to come across friends’ profiles, the company says current Facebook friends will not pop up as potential paramours. Wired magazine points out that this feature might be helpful to LGBTQ people who have not come out. Dating profiles will still list any mutual friends you share with someone.
Because Facebook is such an extensive social network, even a feature like Dating that’s “private” might not stay that way. As on any dating app, people will surely take screenshots and share information among friends and acquaintances. And you can still express interest in the friends you harbor feelings for but may be hesitant to engage in such a conversation.
I am a coward. Please elaborate.
Facebook Dating contains a feature that appears to be hatched by your middle-school nemesis who still acts like they’re 13. It’s called Secret Crush, and it works like this: You select up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers — yes, Facebook owns Instagram — you’re interested in. If one or more of these people have also entered your name into Secret Crush, the app will let you know that you have a match.
It’s similar to the way many other dating apps function by only allowing two people to message one another once they’ve both indicated interest. However, playing this game with people you know seems a lot dicier than doing it with strangers.
What should I put in my profile?
Hopefully something more than photos of yourself in sunglasses, bathroom selfies and group pictures! You can also add Facebook Stories (images or videos that disappear in 24 hours) to your profile.
Plus, you can link your Instagram photos, as you can on Tinder and Bumble. Ostensibly, tying a dating profile to Instagram gives potential matches a fuller sense of what a person’s life is like. But it also gives strangers another platform they can nudge someone who’s already rejected them. Such a phenomenon, called Tindstagramming, is intrusive and creepy.
This seems pretty similar to other dating apps. What’s different about it?
You’re catching on! There is one other thing that seems new: Users can share the details and location of their date with a third party, such as a friend, if they want someone to know where they are and potentially check up on them afterward. Users have to opt in to this feature and can control with whom they share those details.
Will Facebook Dating keep love interests from ghosting me or otherwise treating me poorly?
Unfortunately, no. And that would be exactly the kind of dating disruption we need.