Well, folks, it’s finally happened: Facebook is now a dating app. Or at least, Facebook can be used as a dating app, thanks to the newly-launched Facebook Dating feature of the social media platform’s larger app. At once somewhat surprising and sort of inevitable, Facebook Dating is available starting today in 20 countries including the United States; many more will also gain access to the service by early 2020. The beat goes on, am I right?
Online dating is no longer a new phenomenon; in fact, according to Statista, 17 percent of adults age 18 or older in the United States have met a partner online as of January 2019, while another 30 percent know someone who has met a partner online. Heck, I’m one of that 17 percent; I met the person I eventually married on an online dating site a full decade ago. There’s even what I might call a glut of online dating services available these days, ranging from the quite broad to the highly specific — which might leave some wondering why there’s even a need for a Facebook-fueled dating service in the first place.
Interestingly, though, Facebook Dating sort of walks the line between “quite broad” and “highly specific”: It’s widely available (if you have a Facebook profile and you live in one of the 20 countries that currently has access to the new service, you can use Facebook Dating); however, it also allows for a high degree of customization in terms of how you use it, how it suggests matches for you, and so on and so forth. In that sense, it’s carved out a niche for itself that most other online dating services don’t occupy.
Facebook Dating is opt-in, so if you have no interest in using it, go right ahead and ignore any notifications you might get about it. If, however, you are interested — and if you’re 18 years of age or older and currently have the most recent version of the Facebook app downloaded and set up — then opting in is as easy as selecting “Get Started” when prompted.
Once you opt in, you’ll be able to create a Facebook Dating profile — one that’s separate from your regular Facebook profile — which lets you choose how you identify and who you’re looking for. Facebook Dating can suggest photos and information from your Facebook profile to include in your Dating profile if you’re a one-click-and-you’re-done kind of person (although you can also tweak and edit these photos and info, too, the same way you can usually edit, say, those automatically-generated Year In Review videos Facebook likes to put in front of our eyeballs at the end of every year); or, you can create a fresh Dating profile from the ground up if you’d prefer.
Once your profile is ready to go, you’ll start getting suggestions for possible matches “based on your preferences, interests, and other things you do on Facebook,” according to a press release provided to Bustle. If you see someone pop up in your suggestions who you’re interested in getting to know, you can notify them by either commenting on their profile or tapping the Like button; if you’re not interested, though, you can go ahead and pass.
A huge number of other features within Facebook Dating are opt-in, too. You can choose to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook Dating profile if you like; if you do, you’ll be able to add Instagram posts to your Facebook Dating profile or use your Instagram followers with the “Secret Crush” function (more on that in a bit), but if you don’t want that sort of connection, you don’t have to add your Instagram profile to your Facebook Dating account at all. If you want to see people who both meet your preferences and either participate in Facebook Groups of which you’re a member or plan to go to Events in which you’re interested, you can opt into that, too — but again, if you don’t want that, you can choose not to opt into Groups or Events.
The safety features, too, are opt-in (although I would, uh, imagine that most people will opt into them, because the internet can be a terrible place sometimes). There’s a block functionality, of course, which gives you control over who’s able to access your Facebook Dating profile; if you add someone to your block list, they won’t be able to see your profile or send you messages. If you like, you can also share the details of an upcoming date or send your location live to someone you trust on Messenger — but again, that kind of information will only be shared with people with whom you choose to share it, and only if you opt to share it at all.
If you’re worried about crossing the streams, so to speak, that (hopefully) won’t be a problem, either. First, Facebook Dating activity doesn’t get shared to the rest of Facebook, so your Facebook friends will never know you’re using Facebook Dating unless you tell them. What’s more, although you might be matched with friends of friends, you won’t be matched with people with whom you’re already Facebook friends — unless you want to be.
In that case, there’s "Secret Crush," which allows you to add Facebook friends or Instagram followers to a special list. If any of the people you add to your “Secret Crush” list also add you to theirs, then you’ll both be notified and granted the ability to chat within Facebook Dating. And going back to the “you might be matched with friends of friends” thing: You can even avoid that if you don’t want your suggested matches to include people who have mutual friends in common with you. Just set the feature to match you with people who aren’t in your friends circle and you’re good to go.
Facebook has a lot more planned for Facebook Dating in the future, too; for one thing, it’ll be available across all or most of Europe sometime around early 2020. (Currently, the countries which have access to Facebook Dating are the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam.) More functionalities are also on the way, as well, including the ability to share your Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories to your Dating profile. (The idea is for your profile — and, therefore, its representation of who you are — a bit more dynamic than your standard, static dating profile usually is.) But for now, there’s already plenty to keep potential daters occupied — so if you’re interested in using Facebook Dating, go ahead and tap “Get Started” when the Dating card shows up within the main Facebook app. Have fun!