Facebook launches dating feature with in-app safety measures and 'secret crushes'

Facebook dating.
(Image credit: Courtesy Facebook.)

Say goodbye to unprompted "hey" DM's on Facebook and hello to prompted yet still uninspiring "hey" DM's on Facebook Dating.

Facebook on Thursday launched its long-promised dating feature, which is built into its existing app. So far, it looks a lot like other dating apps that include an Instagram integration and ask users to answer icebreaker questions, save for these three big differences.

Secret Crush. This has been the most talked-about feature of Facebook Dating since the service was first announced earlier this year. Secret Crush lets users pick out Facebook friends and Instagram followers they're interested in "exploring potential romantic relationships" with, and if both people list each other as a crush, Facebook will reveal the match and let them start messaging.

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Safety. Facebook Dating doesn't just let users share their locations with trusted friends when they go on dates; it encourages them to do it. The feature provides a simple transition to its Messenger app so users can tell friends the time and location of an upcoming date, and then reminds them to share their location with that friend 15 minutes before the scheduled event.

Distance. Tinder and other apps will let users know if they have mutual friends with a potential match, provided they've connected their Facebook account to the app. Those connections are seemingly prioritized in apps' match algorithms as well. But Facebook actually lets users turn off matching with friends of friends, which Wired notes could benefit LGBTQ people who aren't publicly out.

More broadly, Facebook also has more user data than other apps and can likely use that to better match users with similar people — something that's more worrisome than it is charming.

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