If you haven’t heard the news, then you have likely seen the massive marketing campaign: Facebook has launched its new dating service in the U.S.
To see what everyone was talking about, I signed up for Facebook dating so you wouldn’t have to. Here are the answers to the questions you were too afraid to ask.
No, your friends don’t have to know.
…unless you want them to. You sign up for Facebook Dating via your Facebook mobile app, but you can keep your dating life á la Facebook off your main feed. Your dating activity, no matter how salacious, all stays within the Dating build-in.
So who exactly sees your profile?
When you sign up, you can choose your social dating field by electing what information to share with the app—and if you want to be matched with friends of your Facebook friends or not. The only items that are auto-generated are your first name and age to start; everything else (your hometown, occupation, photos, your height for some reason, etc.) has to be input by you.
To sum it up, your Dating profile is viewable only by Facebook-suggested dates based on information you supply and the people you add as crushes in Secret Crush. And, yes: blocking is still a thing to use at your discretion—for the people who fall on the opposite side of the spectrum.
How far can you customize your matches?
Wondering what Secret Crush is? Well, It’s just like it sounds. Just put them on your ‘Secrets Crush’ list and if they add you to theirs, boom – it’s a match. You can also customize your settings to find your ‘ideal match’, including location, sexual preference, age, height, children, and beliefs. That, coupled with people who are interested in the same groups or events, will end up in your suggested dates. Instead of swiping, you like their profile to see if you have a match.
What is Facebook really doing with your dating profile?
Good news: your dating preferences won’t be used to serve you social ads. The bad news is that Facebook’s track record for privacy protection is not exactly clean.
Unsurprisingly, privacy is a major concern for a lot of dating hopefuls. Facebook has had several faux pas in the last few years, surrounding its safeguarding (or lack of) of its users’ data.
Facebook has been under fire for its leaks of private information, as well as for its use of the data for advertising. Rightly, several critics have been calling these out again, as reason enough to stick to Tinder. As one critic puts it, Facebook Dating is just making its privacy invasion sexy, by selling your secret crushes & dating preferences to the highest bidder.
But, according to Facebook, this data will not be used to serve you social ads, and the app build-in is an opt-in experience – where the user is in control of what information they share. It released this statement on its privacy policies, to answer its critics:
“Privacy is particularly important when it comes to dating, so we consulted with experts in privacy and consumer protection and embedded privacy protections into the core of Facebook Dating.”
It also released a resource on dating safety tips, to keep yourself safe from predatory behavior & online scams in Facebook Dating.
Better than your current dating app?
Well, Facebook certainly has a bigger pool to pull your next date from. Facebook has about 221 million users in the United States; that’s not to say everyone is going to opt-in to Facebook Dating, but it has the potential to be the biggest dating app in the country.
It also can really dig into your interests, by considering what Facebook groups you join and events you say you’re interested in. There’s a lot of information on your Facebook profile; if users opt to share it all, just think of what you can learn about your potential date before you even start messaging them.
Of course, this is Facebook’s double-edged sword: its data collection. Great for your own sleuthing devices, not so great when you consider what it could mean to share your dating preferences with a social giant that has already been caught sticking their hand in the proverbial data jar.
My official recommendation? We all know online dating is kind of the worst, for all the same reasons. Give Facebook Dating a shot, but user beware. Consider what you put on your Facebook Dating profile carefully and don’t delete your Tinder profile quite yet.
Only time will tell if Facebook Dating is your path to love, or just more fake news.