Facebook announced that it’s introduced a dating service in the US today (Sept. 5), as it prepares to disrupt the already crowded online dating scene.
Users will be able to choose whether they want to use Facebook’s new feature, which is embedded in the main Facebook app. There’s no swiping or waiting for someone to like you to get a chance to reach out, unlike on apps like Tinder or Bumble, Facebook said in a release. The service will include a number of safety features, such as being able to send a friend information about an upcoming date, in case something goes wrong, and blocking sending photos, videos, links, or payments. Facebook Dating won’t match you with your own friends by default, but there’s a feature that could cause some mayhem in users’ social circles, and a lot of heartache.
It’s called “Secret Crush,” and it allows a user to add up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers that they’re pining for. The person, who also has to have Facebook Dating enabled, gets notified with only a vague alert that someone has a crush on them, but if they also choose the user as a crush, the app will match the two people.
This algorithmically-boosted serendipity could lead to many happy couplings that wouldn’t have happened otherwise because the people involved were too shy or self-doubting. It could be very cute and sweet! And Facebook says in its release that the feature is “popular,” presumably in the other countries where its “Dating” service has been available prior to the US, like Canada, Peru, Brazil, and Vietnam.
But it could also have some disheartening consequences: Facebook skeptics immediately brought up the possibility of a data breach or bug, which the company has become known for, that could make their “secret” crushes not-so-secret.
Others jumped to another dark scenario:
And then there’s the more mundane consideration. “Secret Crush” takes away that painful, but formative experience of yearning for someone without knowing whether they’ll reciprocate, but with a good dose of hope that they do, or one day might. Doesn’t anyone at Facebook remember middle school? It’s one thing to be ignored by a stranger on Tinder, where the stakes are very low, but it’s another to confirm someone you know has absolutely no interest in you.
On the other hand, imagine the crush, who now will be racking their brain, losing sleep over who—among their thousands of friends or followers—had selected them?
It’s a good thing teenagers don’t use Facebook that much anymore.