Facebook is getting into the dating game. It launched the pilot of its new Facebook Dating service last week in Colombia, and the match-making platform will remain exclusive to the Andean nation for the time being.
The objective of the Menlo Park, California-based company’s service mimics that of the other popular dating sites that have emerged over the past two decades, meaning that anyone familiar with the likes of OK Cupid, Tinder, and Match will be treading on familiar ground.
Specifically, people on the network can opt-in to Facebook Dating and be presented with “suggested matches” based upon common interests. These suggestions will not include “current Facebook friends” as part of the company’s desire to keep its platform dating — a sensitive and private matter for many people — fenced off from its core offering. Messages sent to suggested matches will also appear separately from the company’s traditional messaging service.
The company says it sees the service, which was announced earlier this year and already beta-tested internally, as a “dedicated experience” on Facebook that will make it “easier to meet and start conversations with people who share your interests.”
Part of the emphasis is also on cultivating long-term relationships, according to an exclusive report from Tech Crunch, something the company thinks it can do well because users inherently understand that any match is actually a real person with a full profile, not just a cute photo.
Ultimately, with so many single people out there across the globe, dating was just a natural progression for a social network that has continually expanded its scope into areas including sports broadcasting, e-commerce, news distribution partnerships, and digital payments.
“More than 200 million people have listed themselves as single in their relationship status on Facebook,” said Nathan Sharp, product manager for Facebook Dating. “We view this as an incredible opportunity to continue helping people build relationships in meaningful ways on Facebook.”
Colombia doesn’t have 200 million people, but it is the third-largest country in a region that predominately speaks Spanish, the most-used language on earth after Mandarin.
So with almost 50 million people living in Colombia, the country is capable of providing a lot of data quite quickly. Its large metro areas — Bogotá has more than eight million residents, while Medellín and Cali each have more than two million — also mean that a lot of mingling will be possible in a short time.
Facebook also says it chose Colombia due to the fact that its people are tech-savvy and highly social. Some 30 million people in the country visit Facebook each month, per company figures, and the company’s WhatsApp messaging app is similarly widespread.
Results of a Euromonitor International study released in 2017 found that roughly 80% of Latin American “digital consumers” reported visiting a social media site everyday. This was well above the 65% figure from the rest of the regions of the world studied by Euromonitor.
“Social media is more intertwined in the daily lives of Latin American consumers than digital consumers elsewhere,” says Michelle Evans of Euromonitor, writing last year about the results for Forbes. “In fact, this channel is emerging as a more important avenue for reaching consumers than even direct email marketing depending on the device.”
Given all the privacy concerns swirling around social media, and specifically Facebook, in recent years, such concerns have been widespread since the company announced its plans to foray into the dating world. Euromonitor found that worry about these issues is generally lower in some Latin American countries, including Colombia, but the global network still is working hard to assuage those fears.
It has continually highlighted that the activity of users of the service will never appear on their actual Facebook profile page or news feed, for example. Users also have full control over who can see their Facebook Dating profile and anyone who they have blocked will never be able to see their page.
“Enhanced privacy controls” are intended to make this even more customizable so that individual people can be be excluded from ever seeing the dating profile including the ability to “report or block someone if at any point you feel uncomfortable,” says Facebook.
(Phone images via Facebook)