Facebook Inc., now called Meta, announcements his dating app, Facebook Dating, in May 2018. There was real excitement as people awaited a revolutionary dating app that will soon beat Tinder.
And no wonder when you consider the size of the company, its technical capabilities and, most importantly, the large amount of data that Facebook has collected for its users. Ultimately, research shows that Facebook she knows us better than our mothersso why not fulfill your goal of creating “meaningful relationships”?
But four years later, it did not take over the market – most people simply forgot about it. Numerous reports claim that the dating app practically does not work. Facebook’s own data offer not many people use the service – about 300,000 in New York, compare with asked for 3 million Bumble users in New York.
Like researcher in online dating technology, I’ve been eyeing Facebook Dating since its announcement. But since I’ve never heard of its market success, it took me a while to look at it. Now I think I have a good idea why the app failed.
When I activated my Facebook dating profile (purely outside academic curiosity), I was struck by the number of very attractive profiles to which I was exposed during the first few hours. I started pressing “like”, I soon received notifications of “matching”, which means that people also “liked” me.
My own research shows that receiving a positive signal in a dating app for a male heterosexual user is quite a rare event. However, my phone kept buzzing for hours. But I started checking the profiles and soon realized that this was too good to be true – the matches looked out of my league.
To see what was happening, I started chatting. I didn’t have ethical permission from my university for comprehensive research, so I made it clear in my profile that I was only there to chat.
But when I wrote several messages to one person, I received a phone number and an invitation to take things to WhatsApp. My past work has shown this usually occurs after at least 20 messages and within three to four days. It was an acquaintance with the speed of light, according to science.
Within a few hours I had a long list of attractive matches that everyone wanted to talk to me about “interesting things” – not in the application, but in WhatsApp. Interestingly, no one sent me an Irish number (often British or Polish), although they all lived in Ireland, presumably.
Things quickly became even stranger. Not only did the text messages look very similar, but the names of the profiles, including Lily, Sandra and Miriam, gradually turned to Tomasz, Moses and Andrew as I continued to like and compare in the app. When I asked “Andrew” from Japan if “her” name was common for girls in Japan, she said it was her German name. Tomasz, also known as Diana, said it was her ex-boyfriend’s name, and Moses did not answer.
At that moment, I began to suspect that I was involved in an organized phishing campaign in order to combine my phone number via chat on WhatsApp with my name, and heaven knows what will happen next.
If there is one social network company that can verify the authenticity of its users, it would be Facebook / Meta. The wealth of data we’ve shared with the app makes it easy to verify accounts. In fact, we rely on authentication on Facebook login system for many other services and applications, including Tinder and Bumble.
Then why didn’t Facebook bother to remove all these fake accounts?
Problems on the horizon
Dating on Facebook coincided with all kinds of scandals, including that of Cambridge Analytica, and parliamentary interrogation. Perhaps the invasive use of personal data for overlapping purposes would provoke more angry voices. It seems that the original vision for Facebook Dating may have been dead in the water before it was released properly.
The rather primitive design of the app suggests that there has been little experience competing with existing dating apps. Your experience would be similar to your experience on Tinder ten years ago.
It seems most likely that Meta was deliberately allowing fake accounts to lurk around Facebook Dating. There just aren’t many real users. If the fake accounts are removed, the app is practically empty and Facebook wants us to see a lot of profiles to stay around the app a little longer.
So what can we learn from all this? It can be difficult for users to instantly detect fake accounts in dating apps, so it’s important not to share your phone number and other personal information before building a level of trust. Impatient invitations to take things to the next level, general account descriptions, and rather inconsistent responses to your messages can be bad signs to beware of.
For the first time since its launch in 2004, the number of Facebook users has stopped growing in the last quarter. And like many of us speculatethis may be the reason why the company chose to change its name to separate Meta from Facebook, a social network, and try to focus on other areas, such as metaverse. So perhaps the failure of Facebook dating is an early sign that Facebook’s problems are deep.
The conversation turned to Meta for comment, but received no response.
This article by Taha Yasseri, Associate Professor, Faculty of Sociology; Geary Fellow, Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin has been republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read on original article.