On Thursday, Facebook Dating, a matchmaking program the business already provides in Brazil, Canada, and 17 other nations, arrives in the U.S. But after years of social network privacy errors, can people trust their lives of love?
Love is another step towards expanding into all facets of human life for a business that is also creating its own digital currency and dabbling in e-commerce.
The version of Facebook claims to be different, but several features mimic what other matchmaking sites provide, just as Tinder brought swiping and Bumble brought female-first messaging. Your Facebook dating profile will be different from your main one, but it will allow you to tap your friend’s network to identify “secret crushes.”
That’s whether users can get past privacy issues.
Rob Sherman, the deputy chief privacy officer of the company, said, “A feature on Facebook that people don’t trust will not be successful.” “We built confidentiality from the ground up.”
Say that to Seth Carter, 32, an engineer from Terre Haute, Ind., who before his current relationship had tried a host of dating apps, including Match, Bumble, Tinder, and Christian Mingle.
He said, “Facebook’s here to make money, and I get that.” But he worries that the claimed dedication of Facebook to privacy will inevitably buckle under pressure to make money off the service. “That probably means they will sell my preferences for dating, which means even more intrusions into my life.”
Facebook says that it’s not going to do any of that. But users like Carter, considering the company’s repeated stumbles over protecting the private information of individuals, can hardly be blamed for their apprehension.
The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook a record $5 billion this summer for privacy violations. It is also under criticism for enabling the dissemination of disinformation and prejudice linked to elections in U.S. housing advertising.
Facebook Dating comes as the prevalence of online dating grows: According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, 15 percent of all U.S. adults said they had used online dating services, up from practically none in 2005.
There’s a crowded market. There are also applications focused on farmers, religious groups, seniors, the LGBT community, and so on, from old school sites such as eHarmony to Hinge or The League, a members-only service promising to bring people together with “ambition and a drive to succeed.”
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said when he unveiled the feature last year, Facebook Dating is “not just for hookups” but to create “meaningful, long-term relationships.” That seemed to be a direct swipe at Tinder, a service best recognized by displaying their picture, age, and the first name for hooking people up with people they find attractive.
With Facebook, you start by developing a dating profile distinct from your Facebook profile. Details such as your school and work are easy to carry over, but you are free to embellish or mask all of that for Facebook Dating only. Up to 36 of your Instagram images can be added as well.
For the main Facebook service, you have to be at least 18, rather than 13. The service is not restricted to those who have called themselves “single.”
Dating on Facebook reveals your age, but hides your last name. When you see a proposed match, by tapping a heart icon, you “like” somebody, or by tapping “X” to hate. You can’t use interests or other keywords to check for friends, the way you can with Match. You’re limited to what is suggested by Facebook. As with Tinder, before watching the next match, you need to determine whether or not you like anyone.
Facebook Dating will not recommend friends as matches, nor will your dating profile show up or be available to friends on your main news feed. Facebook maintains that it will not use advertisement details gleaned from your dating profile and claims there will be no advertisements on Facebook Dating.
Facebook would not encourage lonely hearts to send pictures or links to the website, which may help cut down on unsolicited images. You can even share your position with friends as a safety measure when you’re on a date.
The service will recommend matches based on your current Facebook groups and activities to help you meet off-line and share interests. If you’re both going to a concert and a match, you should make arrangements to meet up there. (These options require that you trigger them deliberately.)
Hidden passions from Harbor for your current Facebook mates or followers on Instagram? You can choose up to nine as a “secret crush.” If your crush is also on Facebook Dating and has selected you as well, you will both be informed. Otherwise, says Facebook, the crush stays concealed.
But based on the past of Facebook with private details from users, there’s probably a chance it won’t, so prepare to be humiliated.