Inside Facebook Dating, launching today first in Colombia

Does the deeper information produce perfect matches? Facebook is finally ready to discover, starting today with a nationwide test in Colombia of its new dating feature. It focuses on a home screen driven by suggested romantic match algorithms based on everything Facebook knows about you that other applications do not have. Facebook Dating is not familiar and is not threatening enough to feel accessible to the wide range of unique Facebook users.

Originally announced on F8 in May, Facebook has worked on details such as limiting users to express interest on up to 100 people per day, highlighting personal questions and also photos, and by default to show friends of friends and strangers to unless you just want to see people without mutual connections. If the test works, wait for Facebook to roll out to more countries soon, as the social network drives its mission to create meaningful connections and the perception that it can be a force of good.

"The goal of the team should make Facebook simply the best place to start an online relationship," Nathan Sharp, Facebook Dating product manager, told me during an expansive interview about Facebook's strategy. The company and how it chose to depart from the best dating applications. For starters, he is not trying to compete with Tinder to find connections by going through endless options, but he must overcome eHarmony, Bisagra and OKCupid to find him a life partner. And it's all about privacy, from its opt-in nature to how it's almost totally in Facebook silos even though it lives within the same application.

"We wanted to make a product that would encourage people to remember that there are people behind the profiles and the letters they are looking in. We wanted a system that emphasizes consideration of momentum. We want you to consider more than the profile picture of that person. "

Although Facebook could surely win a ton of Facebook Dating if it becomes popular, for now there are no plans to monetize it with ads or premium subscriptions to the bonus features. But as Facebook strives to remain relevant beyond the new News Feed and combat its brand crisis, there are many incentives to find us.

How Facebook Dating works …

"Dating is something we've seen on the platform since the early days, we know there are 200 million people who are included as single," says Sharp. He is married, but says with a smile that Facebook Dating "is definitely a young and individual team". In 2004, online dating still had a bad reputation. But now that more than a third of marriages in the US UU They start online and Facebook has had time to identify the traps discovered by other dating applications, is ready to recover.

The basic flow is that users over 18 years old (or the local equivalent & # 39; Adult & # 39;) will see a notice above their News Feed inviting them to try Facebook Dating when it comes to their country , and you will see a shortcut in your bookmarks menu. For now, Facebook Dating is only for mobile devices and will be integrated into the main iOS and Android applications of the social network.

They will choose to verify their city using the location services of their phone and decide if they will add details as a free service. – bio form, workplace, education, religion, height, and if they have children. Facebook offers non-sexual genders and sexual orientations. To complete your profile, you will choose up to a dozen photos that upload, tag, pre-publish on Facebook or post on Instagram cross-wise, and answer up to 20 questions about your personality, such as "What does your perfect? ​​"or" What song always makes you sing? How strong? "

Users can select to filter their matches by distance (up to a maximum radius of 100 kilometers), if they have children, religion, height and age . Then, they can navigate through the list of suggested matches from the home screen, or they can choose "Unblock" events and groups of which they are part to see the people from whom they have done the same. Anyone you have blocked on Facebook will not be shown, although those who are not. To see the next person, they either have to say they are not interested, or they choose a picture or question from the person's profile and send them a message related to it (or at least they are supposed to), and then the sender. can no longer see the recipient.

Text and emoji-only messages go through a special dating chat section on Facebook, not Messenger, and land on the recipient's Interested tab without reading receipts. If they respond, the chat goes to the Conversations tab of both people. From there, they can decide to connect elsewhere online or meet in person.

Sharp admits that "At the moment you try to control the system, there may be unexpected behavior there." Facebook thought about the future so that you can not send photos (dick photos), you are supposed to link your message to a part of its content (less generic collection lines), and you can not continue with people who do not. I answer ( bullying). But the company plans to stay alert in the event of unexpected forms of abuse or privacy issues. In general, Facebook managed to get the appointments without any obvious privacy error or other obvious errors.

… And why

As of today, users in Colombia will be able to create a Facebook Dating profile, but the company will not start serving matches until there are enough records. Sharp tells me "we do not expect it to take months". But why Colombia? He says it's because much of South America has culturally accepted online dating, has a sizeable population of 30 million active Facebook monthly users, and the social network can track data from some discrete metropolitan areas.

It is also likely to limit the prying eyes of journalists seeking Facebook policies or privacy errors, and eliminates the risk of interrupting their advertising in more lucrative markets such as the United States. It's hard to forget that Facebook spoiled the consumption of news in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia last year by banishing all news editors to a separate source, effectively depriving the population of important information. There are consequences for your experiments.

There are many other "why" of how Facebook Dating was created. Sharp guided me through the decision-making process that his team undertook to turn Facebook Dating from a concept into a concrete product. Here I will review its rules and characteristics by explaining the philosophy behind them:

  1. Meaningful relationships not one night because "significant" is Facebook's new password, as it enters the era of "Time well spent" , and the company has the deep biographical data and interest to find matches in which you want to wake up next to each day, not just go to bed.
  2. Opt for non-automatic registration because "not all singles want to go out, not everyone who wants to go out wants to go online, and not everyone who has online dating wants to go out on Facebook," says Sharp in a moment of humility.
  3. Within Facebook is not a new application because it lowers the barrier to behavior that is already quite difficult for some people, and can only achieve its mission if people really use it.
  4. Friends of friends and strangers not friends because the greatest fear of many people is "they are my friends and my family go. Do you want to see this?" Says Sharp. People who are already friends do not need help to get together and they may already know if they want to go out together.
  5. A new profile is not the same because some people may want to share a different side of themselves or may not publicly disclose their true sexual orientation. The only information that is transmitted on Facebook Dating is your name and age.
  6. Message and response, not both people slid to the right because as Facebook wants you to be deliberate about whom you show interest in, you must send a message and I hope to listen again. There is no infinity when you slide to the right and then wait for it to match or send a message. "It puts power in the responder," says Sharp.
  7. Profiles and chat are not separate from Facebook because they do not want to scare users about privacy oversights, and do not want people to contaminate Facebook's main experience by requesting dates
  8. The actual age and the is not described because Facebook wants to avoid cataplasm fishing as well as users who contact parties in distant cities that they will never know.
  9. Matches through Events and Groups not randos because a photo is not enough to choose a life partner, interests overlays are the key to compatibility, and give people events ready to use as dates

A prototype of the inclusion of Facebook Dating flow

The end result is an online dating product that maximizes convenience, both where it is available and how much hunting you have to do yourself. It is uniquely unique to all, to the point that it runs the risk of being seen as universally embarrassing. Fortunately, only other Dating users can know if you are in it and there is no way to search for someone specific, but there is still the threat of humiliating screenshots appearing. It will be fascinating to see how the Facebook Dating strategy and style of marketing develops.

The real advantage of Facebook in this market will be its inexhaustible treasure of personal data about all of us. You could analyze trends in the characteristics of people who are included in a relationship as a whole or what type of people respond to what types of friends request or send messages. To match, it could match people who register at similar locations or whose GPS routes cross, singles who like bands or similar restaurants, or those who watch the same types of viral videos or share links from the same news media. Applications like Tinder can only scratch the surface with associations like the one you have with Foursquare to boost your new matches in Places. Turning all this information into perceptions about who would like who will be a great challenge for Facebook's data scientists.

The big question remains how far Facebook will go to make Dating a success. The feature could live or die if Facebook is willing to constantly scold its individual users to register. Without the gamification of slipping to have fun, Facebook Dating will have to rely on its usefulness. The company is at a precarious moment for its brand, and may have trouble making people trust it with an even more sensitive part of their lives.

"As all events last year have been developed, only the importance of privacy is highlighted" Sharp concludes. No one wants their dating profile to finish Cambridge Analytica & # 39; d. But if you analyze each of your likes and your link gives Facebook an amazing matching accuracy, words could travel fast if that's how people find their soulmates.