The Financial Times has reported that Facebook Dating is set to launch in the United States on Thursday.
The $544 billion social media giant, which boasts 1.59 billion daily active users, has been rolling out its romance product in various markets over the past 12 months.
Dating has been live in Colombia, Thailand and Canada for some time, and recently expanded to 14 countries across South America and Asia.
The interface, available inside the Facebook app, sees singles build a separate profile to their main Facebook presence. They can add interests, events, groups and photos from the wider social network, but the product has been built with privacy in mind.
Friends are never suggested as potential matches, and the only way to connect with an existing contact is via the controversial ‘Secret Crush’ feature.
That innovation sees users express interest in up to nine of their friends who, should they have Dating enabled, will each receive an anonymous notification. If they reciprocate interest, then a match is made.
When it comes to other singles in the network, users are free to message or ‘like’ whoever they find attractive. Product Manager Charmaine Hung said: “If someone’s interested in you, you should know, because that’s what it’s like in real life.”
It may be the case that Facebook was holding off on a US launch until the patent ‘Systems and Methods for Providing a Community-Based Dating Service For a Social Networking System’ was approved.
The recent IP document outlines plans to connect users around events and groups, creating a subcommunity of daters associated with each preexisting Facebook community.
The text reads: “To illustrate, if a user is a member of an ‘I Love Corgis’ group and wishes to see if there are members within that group who may be interested in making dating connections with other members of the group, then one or more embodiments of this disclosure may enable the user to opt-in to a dating feature associated with the group.
“This may enable the user to view dating profiles of other members of the group that have also opted in to participate in the dating feature associated with the group.”
UPDATE 16:19 BST: Match Group, parent company to Tinder, OkCupid, Match.com and more, sees its share price fall 10% in under two hours.
UPDATE 16:25 BST: The Verge reports Facebook Dating will come to Europe in early 2020.
UPDATE 16:34 BST: TechCrunch reports that by year end, users will be able to add Stories from either Facebook or Instagram to their Dating profile.
UPDATE 16:53 BST: Product Manager Nathan Sharp says: “What I can say is that, in terms of privacy, none of the people you would see or encounter would be divulging any sort of information. So, if you and Taylor, for example, had gone to the same college, but you’d never posted that on your dating profile, you may be up-ranked. But Taylor would never see what college you went to and you would never see what college Taylor went to.”
UPDATE 17:05 BST: Facebook Newsroom posts a Privacy Statement relating to Facebook Dating. It emphasises “choice” and “control”.
UPDATE 17:07 BST: Product Manager Charmaine Hung says to CNN: “We’ve been really slow, actually, with this rollout. We really wanted to make sure we got it right because dating is so personal.”
UPDATE 17:10 BST: Hung says users who have previously violated Facebook’s community standards will not be able to date via the platform.
UPDATE 17:36 BST: MTCH stock stops falling and levels out at $80, 10% down from the day’s start.
Read more here.