People have been using Facebook as a sort of substitute online dating site for about as long as Facebook itself has existed — sending flirtatious (or creepy) direct messages to strangers or near-strangers, using likes, pokes and comments to signal attraction, and events as a means of setting up meetings.
If you think about it, it makes sense. As a social network with a gigantic user base, no real focus beyond encouraging human interactions, and functionality to encourage both public and private conversations, Facebook had a lot going for it in terms of simplifying getting to know someone at the edge of your current social circle.
Some other companies even tried to jump off that potential themselves — the app Hinge, which originally drew your dating pool exclusively from the Facebook friends of your Facebook friends, followed Bang With Friends, a service that promised to let you know if you and your Facebook crush both admitted to being willing to sleep with each other.
It wasn’t until 2019, however, that Facebook made its online dating potential into a reality with the launch of Facebook Dating, a subsection of the main Facebook mobile app. Like other popular app-first dating options like Grindr, Tinder and Bumble, Facebook Dating is mobile only. And unlike their current iterations, it requires a Facebook account to sign up.
The experience blends aspects of Facebook, Tinder and OKCupid to form a mish-mash final product that feels like it’s decidedly less than the sum of its parts.
While it does have a few neat features up its sleeve — Secret Crush essentially lets you pre-swipe right on Facebook friends who aren’t on Facebook Dating yet, and Second Look allows you to do just that with profiles you’ve already said no to — it doesn’t have what feels like a unique identity. Also, it shows you a secondary screen every time you engage in saying either yes or no to a suggested match, something that’s more of an unnecessary step for anyone weaned on the fast-paced swiping mechanics of Tinder-like apps that gets annoying over time.
As well, at least for some users, the whole of Facebook Dating remains quite buggy, and despite the massive popularity of Facebook, the user base seems vanishingly small.
All of that adds up to a pretty lackluster experience. That being said, like Facebook itself, it’s completely free (for the time being). Meaning, if you’re single and you have a Facebook account, there’s not necessarily a strong reason not to try it out, but you certainly shouldn’t go in with very high expectations.
Unsurprisingly for a dating app that a massive chunk of the population is technically already signed up for, the sign-up process for Facebook Dating is pretty simple.
After signing in on the Facebook mobile app, Facebook Dating is an option in the app’s main menu. Clicking through will let you set up your profile, which is simplified by the fact that you’ve already given Facebook a lot of information about yourself to populate your profile.
As a result, your name and age are already shown, and you can pick from all the photos of yourself that you’ve already uploaded. Essentially, the real heavy lifting is in composing a short bio, something you’re given the option to populate exclusively with emojis if you so choose, and the optional step of answering a series of stock online-dating questions.
All told, it takes less than five minutes to get set up on Facebook Dating — if you were really in a hurry, you could probably do it in two or less.
Members & Interactions
Though Facebook itself boasts members in the billions, Facebook Dating has only reached a tiny fraction of them. Many Facebook users aren’t looking, and as a result, expecting a Tinder-like variety of nearby users just isn’t realistic at the moment.
It’s plausible that Facebook will keep fine-tuning the service and promoting it to its users to the point where it surges past its online dating competitors, but right now, Facebook Dating feels very much like an app in the early stages — even if you’re interested in more than one gender with your distance settings to the max, you’re likely to run out of suggested matches pretty quickly, and have to wait for more people to sign up for the service.
Like Tinder, Facebook Dating only allows for conversations between two people who have both liked each other. Unlike Tinder, you’re tapping to send someone a “like” instead of secretly swiping right with the hopes they’ll do the same. Meaning if you run into someone you know in the midst of using Facebook Dating, you need to decide whether you’re comfortable signaling your interest in a way that they’ll be able to see before you actually do so.
One workaround for that is the Secret Crush feature, which allows you to secretly indicate your interest in your Facebook friends — both those who are and aren’t using the Facebook Dating feature. If the other person ever does the same for you, you’ll both be notified, but if they don’t, they’ll be none the wiser about your affections.
Regardless of how you get there, once two people have signaled their interest in each other, Facebook Dating opens a conversation space for the two of them to interact, leaving you to take things from there on your own.
– Secret Crush lets you secretly mark your attraction to different Facebook friends and Instagram followers
– Second Look allows you to look over users you’ve turned down in case you’ve changed your mind or hit “no thanks” by accident
– Creating a profile is incredibly easy for any existing Facebook user
– Gender identity options allow you to identify as and look for users of a variety of different genders
– You can link your Instagram account
Safety & Security
Facebook isn’t exactly a company known for its spotless privacy record. Its entire business model relies on using its users’ data to sell things to them, and since Facebook Dating is completely free, it’s hard not to suspect that the decisions you make in the app might lead to being served ads calibrated to the things they’ve learned about you based on your behavior.
And the fact that Facebook’s behind-the-scenes employees are well-versed in checking to see if people’s profiles are using their real names and so forth might make you feel more secure, but with literally billions of Facebook accounts out there, it’s hard to keep track of them all.
Meaning, as with other dating options out there, you should exercise a little caution with the people you meet on there to make sure you don’t fall victim to a dating scam.
Check out Facebook Dating’s blog post on privacy for more information.
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