Facebook dating, which has been teased on and off for a few years until it was promised as a coming reality at the F8 Conference this year, is rolling out in Colombia today for its first live trial run. Facebook dating promises to be different from other dating sites, in part because it will be linked to the information gathered on each person’s Facebook account and because the Facebook databank of registered users is so huge. It is also those same reasons that numerous tweaks have been put into to place to try to make Facebook dating a separate entity from Facebook, as reported by Wired, but not everyone is sure that is going to go according to plan, hence a very slow and limited rollout, even by Facebook standards.
Facebook dating will not be an automatic thing that everyone is enrolled in. Anyone caring to use it will have to opt-in. The dating profile will be separate from the user profile, but the information gathered by Facebook from the user profile will help try to create matches for the dating profile. An example of this would be pairing people that Facebook feels have similar interests based on geography, group membership, page likes, events attended or planned for the future, and just about anything else their secret algorithm feels creates a good match.
— Recode (@Recode) September 20, 2018
Facebook says their dating platform is geared toward people looking for meaningful long-term relationships, and only offers matches within 100 kilometers of each other. They also will not allow any messaging that begins with something like “Hey,” instead requiring first contacts be based on answering one of a set of questions or commenting on a photo posted by the user that is being contacted.
According to TechCrunch, the amount of information being requested for each person is still somewhat basic such as age, height, parental status, job title, and so on. Each user can post up to nine photos, and while it is advised they not also be photos on a person’s Facebook profile, that is something many feel will likely be ignored. The reason new photos are a good idea is to make it more difficult to search a person out and link their Facebook dating profile to their primary Facebook profile.
Facebook starts publicly testing its dating service with users in Colombia today. https://t.co/Pa3PP1TH12
— WIRED Gadget Lab (@gadgetlab) September 20, 2018
While Facebook maintains these two aspects will be completely separate so no one can match one profile to another, most security analysts believe that is nothing but wishful thinking. Even though Facebook has said no dating profile will be seen by the friends of an individual’s Facebook profile or anyone they have blocked, according to The Verge, given the parameters of the wealth of information used to create matches, narrowing down who is who seems like it will be easy for people that really want to investigate a potential match according to some tech experts.
— Ashley Carman (@ashleyrcarman) September 20, 2018
It is in part those analysts claims, and possibly a bit of curiosity on behalf of Facebook regarding the possibility of those claims being true, that the launch of Facebook dating is so limited in scope. While Facebook usually launches new tests features in limited areas, it is usually an area larger than the country of Colombia. Facebook told Wired it will take some time for dating to reach critical mass and provide a truer picture of how it works outside of the lab, but they expect it to be a success.
Currently, Facebook dating will only be available as a mobile app, but if successful, they have plans to convert it to a freestanding platform that will also work on a non-mobile device. Facebook has not stated if they will be sharing user feedback from the early days of the launch publicly, but good or bad, it is a safe bet that users will be posting about their experiences and laying bare how it really works.