Although it was rolled out in Canada a few months ago, there hasn’t been much fanfare or online chatter about Facebook’s next crack at an existing market. The social media giant hopes sheer numbers — and the fact Facebook is organized into social communities — give the platform a natural connection with online dating.
Facebook has nearly 5,000 data points that make the profiles used in its matching engine, using these to bring together people who likely have common friends or activities. (Don’t get too worried: the notoriously privacy-averse social platform only shows names and ages when attempting to match you with the perfect person.)
This is probably not the best time to launch a service that relies on using private data, as Facebook was just accused of sloppy security, allowing millions of user-supplied phone numbers to be easily taken and sold to the highest bidder. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is playing the long game; he doesn’t expect a massive conversion rate for his users or a flood of new users from outside the Facebook world.
It will take time for Facebook users to feel comfortable again — and the company is way late to this party, as there are a number of online dating apps, including ones for any orientation or group appeal. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the company that started as a Hot or Not knockoff in the sprawling online dating world.
Facebook is obviously aiming at a core audience of 18- to 35-year-olds, but as baby boomers continue to enter the ranks of the divorced, chances are they will start with Facebook, as it’s what they’re comfortable with now. Why bother downloading another app you’re not familiar with when you can use Facebook? Even if they eventually try Plenty of Fish, Match.com or Grindr, Facebook will appear as a more personalized service, with some of their matches being connected to their IRL (in-real-life) friends.
Facebook is aiming to provide a more personalized and dynamic experience, with features such as giving users the chance to use Instagram photos easily.
With the Silicon Valley company in the crosshairs in numerous antitrust cases, the U.S. Congress talking about online security and the backlash against its cryptocurrency Leo, Zuckerberg at least made an attempt to prove he cares about his users’ data and online experiences, making the platform’s security and privacy functions front-facing, instead of hiding them for you to figure out.
But letting down your guard with Zuckerberg is usually a mistake: just ask the Winklevoss twins. The Harvard dropout has never cared about privacy; in fact, you could say his empire has been built on the exact opposite principle. From Day 1, the talented programmer used other people’s data to populate his social network and then sold off that data as a principal source of increasing revenue for the publicly traded company — all this with little or no permission given.
If you do choose to use Facebook Dating, don’t panic: the algorithm isn’t going to connect you to anyone in your existing network. You’ll have to slide into their DMs the hard way if you want them to notice you.