Canadians who are tired of Tinder and bored of Bumble now have a new online dating option: Facebook. Hey, they already have all your data — why not use it to help you get a date?
The company announced its intention to get into the dating space at a developer conference this spring, which promptly sent shares plunging in competing online dating companies and apps.
In September, Facebook launched its dating platform exclusively in Colombia. As of Thursday, it's also live in Canada and Thailand.
Facebook hopes to steer clear of the reputation that plagues some dating apps for simply enabling hookups, instead of fostering meaningful relationships, said Facebook Dating's program manager Charmaine Hung.
Echoing CEO Mark Zuckerberg's May announcement, Hung says the company is against the "gamification" of online dating. On the new feature, you'll have to scroll through a person's entire profile before hitting "Interested" or "Pass" — no swiping.
"Our product is about consideration, not impulse," Hung told HuffPost Canada at the company's offices in Toronto.
How it works
Facebook Dating will operate within the Facebook app, but in a messaging system separate from Facebook Messenger. Your first name and age will be pulled from your existing Facebook profile, but you're free to build the rest of your dating profile from scratch.
Facebook Dating borrows some features from existing dating apps and websites. Much like Hinge, users can answer questions provided by the app meant to give prospective partners insight into someone's interests and tastes. For example, it asks daters to "describe your perfect day."
Initial messages have to be related to a specific aspect of someone's profile to avoid exchanges that simply start with "Hey" or "What's up." Users are encouraged to say things like, "What a gorgeous landscape, where was that photo taken?" or "My perfect day is also watching 'Wayne's World' on repeat seven times!"
Unlike Bumble or Tinder, where messaging can only start once both people have indicated they're interested in one another, you can message someone on Facebook Dating before they've made it clear they're also interested in you — but only once. They have to "like" you back before you can send a second message.
Who you'll be matched with
You'll be shown prospective matches based on an algorithm that takes into account your preferences for gender, age and location, the interests you've "liked" on Facebook, the groups you're in, and the events you've attended.
You won't be matched with any of your current Facebook friends. The company wants to avoid accidentally suggesting people date their uncle or their employees, Hung said, and developers assumed that people may have already considered dating their other Facebook friends.
The service will initially show you matches with whom you have mutual friends, but you have the option to turn that feature off — Hung says that came from consultations with LGBTQ groups who suggested some queer people may not be out to all of their friends.
How it hopes to compete in the crowded online dating market
Facebook is hoping data about the groups that users belong to and events they attend will give its dating platform an edge other apps don't have. It will help match users by interest, Hung said: "It's like a singles room for all the groups you're in."
You'll also have the option to "unlock" dating on events you plan to attend, allowing you to see potential matches who will also be at an upcoming concert or party you're going to.
A 'work in progress'
Facebook Dating's Canadian launch will include two features that weren't in the product's initial launch in Colombia in September. "Second Look" will allow you to reconsider matches you've previously rejected, while "Pause Matching" lets you keep talking with your current matches while giving you a break from talking to new people.
Facebook is confident about its product, but Hung says the company is also hoping the Canadian and Thai launches will provide them with lots of feedback and information they can use before launching in the U.S. at some point in the future.
"It's definitely still a work in progress," she said.