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 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 on 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 massive time-suck.
Before you create a Facebook Dating profile, let’s answer all your questions about how the feature will work.
• If my Facebook profile shows that I’m single, will I automatically be shopped around as a potential romantic partner, a la Facebook’s People You Might 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 appears similar to the way Hinge works, where 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 in other dating apps where it’s common to come across friends’ profiles, the company says current Facebook friends will not pop up as potential paramours. Wired points out that this feature might be helpful to LGBTQ people who aren’t out. But dating profiles will still list any mutual friends you might share with someone.
Since Facebook is such a massive social network, even a feature like Dating that’s “private” might not stay that way. Just like 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 don’t have the courage to engage in a frank, adult 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 same 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 currently function, by only allowing two people to message once they’ve both indicated their interest. However, playing this game with people you know seems a lot dicier than doing it with strangers.
• What will I put in my profile?
Hopefully something more than photos of yourself in sunglasses, bathroom selfies and massive 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 – like 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 shows strangers another platform where they can nudge someone who’s already rejected them. Such a phenomenon, called Tindstagramming, can be intrusive and creepy.
• This seems pretty similar to other dating apps. What about it is different?
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, like 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 are in control of who they share those details with.
• Will Facebook Dating keep love interests from ghosting or otherwise treating me poorly?
Unfortunately, no. And that would be exactly the kind of dating disruption we need.