Facebook Dating, a matchmaking service the company already offers in Brazil, Canada and 17 other countries, has finally arrived in the U.S. But after series of privacy missteps by Facebook, the question arises: Will people trust it with their love lives? For Facebook that’s also working on its own digital currency Libra while simultaneously dabbling in e-commerce, love is another step toward attracting youngsters. Remember, Tinder brought swiping and Bumble brought female-first messaging. Facebook’s version promises to be different. Although features of Facebook Dating resemble what other matchmaking services.
“A feature on Facebook that people don’t trust isn’t going to be successful,” said Rob Sherman, the company’s deputy chief privacy officer. “We built in privacy from the ground up.” Tell that to Seth Carter, 32, an engineer from Terre Haute, Indiana, who tried a host of dating apps ranging from Match to Bumble, Tinder and Christian Mingle prior to his current relationship. “Facebook is here to make money and I get that,” he said. But he worries that Facebook’s stated commitment to privacy would ultimately buckle under pressure to make money off the service. “That likely means they’re going to sell my dating preferences, which means even more intrusions into my life.”
Earlier, Facebook was fined a record $5 billion this summer by the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations. Facebook is also under scrutiny for allowing for the spread of election-related misinformation and discrimination in U.S. housing ads. Facebook Dating comes at a time when the popularity of online dating is on the rise. In 2016, 15% of all U.S. adults said they had used online dating services, up from virtually none in 2005, according to the Pew Research Center.
With Facebook, you start by creating a dating profile distinct from your Facebook profile. It’s easy to bring over details such as your school and job — but you’re free to embellish or hide any of that just for Facebook Dating. You can also add up to 36 of your Instagram photos. You have to be at least 18, rather than 13 with the main Facebook service. The service isn’t limited to those who’ve listed themselves as “single.” Facebook Dating shows your age, but hides your last name.
Your Facebook Dating profile will be separate from the main Facebook app. However, it will still allow you to tap your network of friends to identify “secret crushes.” Facebook Dating, a mobile-only service that’s free to use and free of ads, can still help Facebook make money if it keeps people glued to its other services longer. Facebook insists it won’t use information gleaned from your dating profiles for advertising and says there won’t be ads on Facebook Dating. (With AP inputs)