Facebook says its mission statement is to "bring the world closer together," and apparently it means that quite literally. Today the company launched its previously announced "Facebook Dating" feature. This is probably the one product that actually lets you benefit from the fact that the company already knows basically everything about you.
If you think that's a joke, it's not. And investors in the biggest dating platform, Match.com, apparently don't think so either. That company's stock dropped 7 percent on the news, a tacit acknowledgement that Facebook has the potential to make a huge impact on this particular market.
Facebook already knows what you like, where you hang out, what music you listen to, who you associate with, and probably has a pretty good idea about who would be a good match. In fact, the company's announcement says almost exactly that:
"Facebook Dating makes it easier to find love through what you like--helping you start meaningful relationships through things you have in common, like interests, events and groups. It takes the work out of creating a dating profile and gives you a more authentic look at who someone is."
Facebook will allow you to create a Facebook Dating profile (which will be separate from your normal profile) and will help you match with other users who have also opted in. Those matches are based on common interests and many other things even your mother doesn't know about you.
You can also have your Instagram photos added directly to your dating profile, and add your Instagram followers to a "secret crush" list.
Yes, it's a little creepy when you think about it, but Facebook also says it "worked with experts in these areas to build protections into Facebook Dating from the start, including the ability to report and block anyone; prohibiting people from sending photos, links, payments or videos in messages; and by providing easy access to safety tips."
Facebook and dating?
I know I give Facebook a hard time about the fact that it scoops up an alarming amount of your personal information, tracks you across pretty much every website you visit and every app you use, and has a really bad track record protecting that information. Still, I'm going on record right now as saying that I'm genuinely impressed that the company actually found something useful to do with all that information.
Dating is painful.
Of course, I'm also married, so I feel like it's probably not in my best interest to do a hands-on product review in this case, but I remember what it was like to be not married. I also remember what it was like to navigate the dangerous waters of trying to meet someone you might not only have something in common with, but who isn't crazy and doesn't drive you nuts after two dates.
If Facebook can make that less painful, then good for them. Plenty of other services have tried with varying degrees of success. But here's the thing--and I admit I have no hard data on this--but for most single people on Facebook, it already serves as probably one of the most effective ways to meet people. Actually, considering the studies that show Facebook is increasingly linked to divorce and infidelity, apparently a lot of not-single people (or soon-to-be-single) are using it for that purpose as well.
The perfect 'match.'
But like LinkedIn did for job search and recruiting, Facebook might actually be able to do for dating. It's a perfect match. I mean that sincerely--there was no platform better equipped to completely change how people network professionally for jobs and sources than LinkedIn. I think you can say the same is true for Facebook.
Of course, there's a counterpoint: Do you really want Facebook to use your information for something as personal as dating? Maybe not, except, it's already doing it. It already matches you with "People You Might Know," and it obviously tries to match you with "advertisers who'd like to sell you stuff."
At least this way you might get a date out of it.