Facebook Dating: how to use the social media platform’s new dating app in the UK - and is it safe?

The new app links you to other Facebook users – but it won't set you up with anyone on your friends list… unless you want it to

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

A new contender has entered the dating app fray: Facebook Dating.

Facebook’s attempt at a dating service aims to “help more people find meaningful relationships through things they have in common, like interests, events and groups.”

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Here is everything you need to know about it.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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When Facebook Dating is coming to the UK - and why there are privacy concerns

What is Facebook Dating?

Facebook’s entry to the dating space allows users to match with other users who are interested in the same groups and events that they are, by opting in to add your Facebook events and groups to Dating.

You can also filter results based on location, number of children, religion, age, or height, and can match with other users within a 100km range.

Once you’re matched with a potential suitor, you’re able to share Facebook or Instagram Stories with them to “show, rather than tell” them who you are.

It won’t match you with anybody already on your friend’s list, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t awkwardly be paired up with that ex you never got round to unfriending many years ago.

That is unless you opt into the “Secret Crush” feature, which lets you explore potential relationships with people you already know; you can select up to nine of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers who you’re interested in.

If one of them adds you to their Secret Crush list too, it’s a match, but if somebody isn’t on Dating, doesn’t create a Secret Crush list or doesn’t put you on their list, they will not know that you’ve entered their name.

Is it safe?

Once users match, they will be able to start an instant messaging chat.

However, since meeting people face-to-face is made a little more difficult at the moment thanks to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook has introduced a video chat option.

When you’re ready, you can video chat with each other by tapping on the video icon in your chat. Starting the call sends an invitation, and once they accept, they will join your video call and you can get to know each other better.

In terms of data protection and privacy, there have been some issues with Facebook Dating.

Facebook's new feature was due to launch a day before Valentine’s Day 2020, but the EU pulled the plug on it due to serious data protection concerns just a day before launch.

The social media giant failed to pass Irish data security regulations by not submitting adequate documentation.

In a statement online, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) said it had been told about the feature just 10 days ahead of the planned launch and "no information or documentation was provided to us".

Facebook claimed at the time that it had provided the necessary paperwork, and said in a statement: "It's really important that we get the launch of Facebook Dating right, so we are taking a bit more time to make sure the product is ready for the European market.

"We worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards and complete the data-processing impact assessment ahead of the proposed launch in Europe, which we shared with the DPC when it was requested."

When can I use Facebook Dating?

Facebook Dating was first made available in a select number of countries in late 2019.

But as of now, it is available in the UK for the first time.

The feature was due to be made available earlier in the year, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its release date was pushed back.

To find out more, and to begin creating your dating profile, head to facebook.com/dating