Among Facebook’s active daily users – more than one billion of them – some 200 million checked off Single as their relationship status. Why are we telling you this?
On Thursday, Facebook, the largest social network in the world launched its dating app called Facebook Dating in the United States. Facebook Dating App isn’t a new app, it’s actually a new feature built into Facebook.
It seems like they’re taking it upon themselves to change those relationship statuses into something more.
Not everyone is thrilled about signing up, though.
With the company’s not-so-stellar track record of intentional harvesting and accidental reveals of user data, who’d want to let Facebook play a role in their love life? Not without learning more about Facebook Dating app privacy first, anyway.
Facebook Dating App: How It Works & What You Need To Know
You’re familiar with using Facebook to connect with and meet new friends. Sure, we’re all guilty of browsing through Facebook with the intention of finding the more-than-friends type of relationships there, too.
But now it’s official – Facebook is now a legitimate dating service!
How did it come to this, you ask?
Facebook’s playing cupid now; that’s how.
That means that Facebook Dating will soon be available in 19 countries worldwide. And by early 2020, it should become available in Europe, too.
The tech giant is well aware of the reputation they have among the general public. And don’t worry; we’ll talk more about that reputation later. They’ve pointed out that security, privacy, and consumer safety were their prime goals while creating Facebook Dating.
Even more so, they insist and underline the fact that your dating activity will stay within the realms of Facebook Dating, not being shared with the rest of the company.
Is that good enough for you to sign up, though?
Do us a favor, and keep on reading before you answer that one.
How It Works: Sign Up, Features, And More
The first thing you should know is that Facebook Dating is designed as an opt-in experience – a separate, dedicated space within Facebook. While you have a dedicated space, Facebook Dating is still using the Facebook app. It’s not a separate app.
So, if you’re not interested in looking for love on Facebook, you can still create a “regular” account there – without it automatically creating a dating profile, too.
And just so we clarify things, they promise not to share any of the info related to your dating profile to your News Feed or actual Facebook profile.
If you have the latest version of Facebook downloaded, and you’re at least 18 years old, you can go ahead and create a separate dating profile. If you do, your first name and age will be the only two pieces of info that will automatically show up on Facebook Dating.
Everything else, including your gender, photos, interests, and other relevant information will be suggested to you. These can be edited or removed, based on what you want to share that with your potential matches.
Your friends, as well as people you’ve blocked, won’t ever end up being suggested as a possible match – or see your profile, either. Friends of friends might, but only if you explicitly opt for it in the settings.
It all sounds lovely and easy to use. However, considering Facebook’s history, it’s no wonder that many are skeptical about their new-found respect for user privacy.
Moreover, many were quick to share their concerns with this new feature, including the possibility of handing out sensitive information, including your dating preferences, with third parties.
Sure, Facebook stated that they’re committed to protecting your privacy. Also, they don’t plan on monetizing Dating, and won’t share any of your activities outside of it.
But Facebook said a lot of things, and yet, here we are.
Secret Crush Option & Why It’s Creepy
Another feature that sparked quite a bit of discussion is the “Secret Crush” feature within Facebook Dating.
You can now secretly express your affection for a friend without the awkwardness of actually telling them, and ruining the friendship if they don’t feel the same way.
Add them to your Secret Crush list.
Once you add someone to the list, if they’re also using Facebook Dating, they’ll be notified that a friend has a crush on them.
If you end up on their Secret Crush list, too, you’ll both get a notification about it – and you can move your conversation to Messenger.
Sounds sweet enough, right?
But here’s the main concern:
What’s stopping users from spamming the feature by adding and then removing friends from the list until they get a match?
Granted, Facebook does limit users to adding only one person per day after filling up the list initially, but still. And if we’re honest, isn’t this just a more appropriate way to stalk someone?
We’re not the only ones thinking it, either.
Lots of social media users came to the same conclusion. It sounds sweet at first, but when you think about it, it’s borderline creepy.
Don’t Delete Tinder Just Yet
When Facebook Dating was first announced by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, it was pointed out that it won’t be targeted at hook-ups and one night stands. The idea is to help users find long-term partners and build meaningful relationships. Oh, and there won’t be any actual swiping, either.
If that’s not a direct dig at Tinder, we don’t know what is.
Another feature that sets this one apart from other dating apps is that the messages you exchange within Facebook Dating are text-based only. That means no unsolicited photos, no links to sketchy websites, and no payments requested by scammers.
Out of everything we’ve learned about Facebook Dating, this has to be our favorite part.
Facebook Dating App Privacy: What Could Go Wrong?
Facebook and dating – what could go wrong there?
Well, considering Facebook’s reputation regarding safety and privacy, everything. Everything could go wrong.
Sure, the idea seems sweet and innocent enough. Also, we’re sure there are plenty of single people out there who are carefully putting together their dating profiles as we speak. After all, Facebook Dating has been available in several other countries since last year.
But – and there’s always a “but” – have you already forgotten about the somewhat questionable privacy-related practices Facebook has been accused of in the not-so-distant past?
Last year, the world witnessed Facebook being torn down over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Users worldwide were left wondering how much of their information was Facebook giving away.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what we’re talking about here:
Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, to harvest data of up to 78 million of its users – without their knowledge or permission.
That alone should be enough of a reason for concern. How much can you truly trust Facebook with your data?
Here’s the truly shocking part, though – the scandals don’t end there. Once the first appalling discovery ended up in the public eye, other concerns, security flaws, and privacy issues started to unravel, new ones sprouting almost weekly.
Honestly, 2018 was in no way a good year for Facebook.
Most recently – as in a few days ago – Facebook took part, accidentally or not, in yet another major data breach scandal. This time, it involved phone numbers linked to an approximate total of 419 million user accounts.
That included around 133 million US-based users, over 50 million Vietnam-based users, and 18 million users from the UK, among others.
And this coming from a social network that just last year, on April 4, announced that they’re taking the necessary measures to protect sensitive information and restrict data access!
As reported by the security researcher who discovered the database, all the phone numbers, complete with Facebook account IDs – and in some cases, even names, genders, and locations – were stored on an unsecured server. And when we say “unsecured,” we mean you didn’t need so much as a password to access it.
The sheer volume of exposed data is enormous – let alone its severity.
Information like that could’ve easily been used for all sorts of fraudulent activity, identity theft, and so-called SIM-swap attacks. Security researchers also warned that such data could be used for hijacking phones, as well.
So, yeah, the fact that you might receive spam calls now and then seems to be the last thing that should worry you if you gave your phone number to Facebook.
The scandal made the headlines days before Facebook Dating launched in the United States. Oh, the irony!
We get that this won’t necessarily stop everyone from giving dating on Facebook a shot, and that’s okay. That’s not why we’re writing this, anyway.
If you know us, then you also know that we value privacy and safety in the data-driven, online world we all live in today.
So, can we suggest something?
Use a disposable phone number when signing up and verifying your profile on any dating service, including Facebook Dating App.
Disposable Phone Numbers Can Help With Privacy
Now, we know that sounds a bit extreme, but after everything you just read, can you blame us for wanting to approach this whole thing with caution?
Yeah, we didn’t think so.
Even if Facebook holds up its end of the deal – not linking your account with your dating profile – there are still major red flags here.
Was your phone number among the 419 million leaked?
Maybe. We’ll never know now, will we?
What we do know, however, is that something as simple as not giving out your real phone number could protect your presence in the online world. We’ve been saying it for who knows how long now, but after the latest Facebook scandal, we hope more people will start listening.
So, before you kick the idea of getting a disposable phone number for the whole dating part of your daily Facebook use, take a moment to consider the potential benefits.
First and foremost, you’re not giving away your phone number. It’s a highly personal piece of information to hand out to strangers every time you sign up for a website or online services.
Not only does this serve as an added layer of protection in the online world, but it helps your private information stay private, too.
Also, you don’t have to deal with any SMS spamming, promotional messages, and other potential aftermaths of giving out your phone number to a website, sketchy or not.
The best part, however, is how easy it is to get one. And no, it doesn’t require purchasing an actual “burner phone.” You can get your disposable number online, and receive all your SMS verification codes there, too.
Are You Thinking Of Signing Up?
So, Facebook Dating App – yay or nay?
We think you already know our answer. But, as our parents used to say to us back in our high school days:
„We know you’re going to do it no matter what we say, so we might as well make sure that you stay safe doing it.“
Remember that talk?
Well, the same applies here.
With the Facebook Dating App privacy concerns, including all past and ongoing scandals revolving around Facebook’s controversial privacy policies, we’d rather you stick with what you know. Tinder, maybe?
But if not, the least you can do is play it safe. Listen to our advice, get yourself a MobileSMS.io disposable number if you decide to use Facebook Dating, and let these data leaks be someone else’s concerns, and not yours.