Facebook Dating’s most exciting new feature builds upon a well-established safety practice for online dating. Before meeting someone in person for the first time, many people—especially women—tell a friend or family member where they’re going and when they expect to be back, in case something happens. More recently, people have been sharing their location using tools like Apple’s Find My Friends. Facebook will allow you to automatically open Messenger from Dating and tell a friend the name of the person you’re going on a date with, as well as the time and place where you plan to hang out. Fifteen minutes before your date happens, that person will receive a notification reminder and access to your live location. But unlike Find My Friends, your location is only shared for up to an hour, at least for now.
“We’re definitely playing around with the timing,” says Hung. “We did want to make sure that people weren’t accidentally sharing their live location longer than they intended to.”
The Basics of Facebook Dating
Facebook Dating will live as a tab within Facebook’s main menu on mobile. When you first set up your profile, Facebook will ask you to specify your gender and the gender(s) of the people you’re interested in. According to a preview shared by Facebook, the options are “cis woman,” “trans woman,” “cis man,” “trans man,” and “non-binary person.” Your gender identity won’t be shared with potential matches. You can express interest in “everyone,” “women,” “men,” “trans women,” or “trans men.” You can also fill in details like your height, religion, job title, where you work, where you went to school, and whether you have children.
You can complete your profile with up to a total of nine photos and ice-breaker questions provided by Facebook, like “What does the perfect day look like?” For now, you can’t write your own. Once your profile is set, Facebook says it will start matching you with potential dates based on “your preferences, interests and other things you do on Facebook.” The company says this includes factors like where you’re from, the Facebook groups you’re in, and where you say you went to school. You also can only match with people who are located within roughly 100 miles of you. Dating doesn’t require you to continuously share your location with Facebook, but you do need to turn on location services in order to verify you are where you say you are—whether that’s just once, when you’re home, or if you update it if you move or travel.
Facebook Dating presents matches one at a time, but it doesn’t have a certain famous right-or-left swiping mechanism. Instead, to start a conversation, you need to like a person’s profile or respond directly to one of their questions, photos, or Instagram posts, similar to on dating app Hinge. For example, you can click on a picture of their dog and send a message saying, “He’s cute!” To turn someone down, you tap “Not Interested.” You can also re-review someone’s profile using a feature called “Second Look.”
Facebook Dating messages live in their own separate inbox, and they’re strictly text-only. You can’t send links, photos, or payments for security reasons. (So-called romance scams have been a problem online for years, including on Facebook.)
Will Facebook Dating Find Love in the US?
Facebook is entering a crowded online dating market in the US, but the company also has certain advantages weighing in its favor. It’s already a unique player, since many competitors rely on its API to power their own apps. The company says it has no current plans to cut off data access to apps like Bumble and Tinder, which rely on Facebook to tell users information like whether a match has friends in common.