Facebook Dating Encounters Further Delays
The long road for a Facebook dating app has been extended with further delays announced for Europe.
Facebook first launched the ” Facebook Dating ” feature in Colombia back in May 2018 and has since rolled out the testing phase in the latter part of the year to Thailand and Canada to mixed reviews. It’s unclear when it will be fully launched in the UK and the U.S.
The Company is expected to update on its plans in its annual F8 developer conference scheduled for early May, however, this may be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally this is the arena where Facebook discusses or unveils next-generation consumer product innovations. In the meantime, Facebook will continue and extend its extensive testing process.
Data Protection – Ireland Intervenes
Facebook had planned to launch it’s dating service in EU countries in February, however, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission registered a concern that they had received insufficient documentation from Facebook. This as a knock-on effect for all EU countries (including the UK during the post-Brexit transition) as member states all comply with EU rules. Facebook countered that it had provided the necessary paperwork, however, it confirmed that the roll-out for its dating initiative has been put back.
A spokesperson clarified, “It’s really important that we get the launch of Facebook Dating right, so we are taking a bit more time to make sure the product is ready for the European market.” A new launch date hasn’t been given yet.
Privacy is obviously key in this process as Facebook users didn’t set up their profile with the specific intention of dating. So whilst the dating process remains an opt-in option, Facebook has recognised that users of the service will not want the embarrassment of being matched with ‘friends. Accordingly, users of the service can choose to show or hide the friends of friends in the list of recommendations and specific profiles can be blocked. Facebook has also pledged to keep the dating profiles set of data separate from traditional profiles.
How to enable Facebook Dating?
So once the data protection issues are resolved to the satisfaction of all territories, what will the service look like? From the early reports in the trial areas it appears the key elements to the matching process will be based on information Facebook holds relating to matched interests, events and groups joined and even mutual friends. The latter feature is optional.
For those who are able to enjoy a test version here’s an early user guide:-
Download the latest Facebook app (only Android initially)
Go to the More menu or see more.
Find the heart symbol (Facebook dating symbol) that is in the Explore list
Start creating a profile by adding images.
Choose various interests to enable the Facebook algorithm to come up with suitably compatible matches
A list of selected matches is then provided and users can click or message those they are interested in. If the recipient of the list is not interested in a suggested person then there is the option to press ‘ pass’ and that person that will not appear in the recommended list again.
Just like Bumble, only one message is allowed to be sent unless a response has been received so users will not be bombarded by someone who they don’t want to pursue any chat with. There is also the option to block profiles.
As with other dating services, there is the choice to specify preferences such as age, education, religion, and the desire (or not) to have children. A maximum of nine photos are allowed and you can ask you potential match an “ice-breaker” question such as ‘What’s your idea of a perfect day?”
The dating option is only available to Facebook users over the age of 18. Business Insider reported that Facebook’s Product Manager, Nathan Sharp, has pitched the service as aiming to cater for those looking for long-term relationships rather than casual hook-ups.
Following Facebook’s failings regarding safeguarding data then some have speculated that the Company will face an uphill struggle reassuring people that their dating data will be protected. Users of the dating service will be required to create a new profile specifically to use the app and Facebook intends to keep data separate between the existing user accounts and the new dating option. That’s the intention, however, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook may face an uphill battle regaining trust in terms of this data safeguard issue. The Company no doubt faces close scrutiny hence the intervention of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.
Currently, testing has been limited to android users in the three test territories but it’s expected to be expanded to IOS users in 2020 . The slow roll-out in a small number of territories around the globe highlight that Facebook is intent on getting both the service and their data protection obligations absolutely right before it becomes an option for Facebook users in both Europe and the U.S.
We explore the pros and cons of the industry giants