- Facebook has expanded its "Facebook Dating" service to Europe.
- Facebook claims that the platform has generated 1.5 billion matches across 20 countries since it launched.
- In Europe, it will compete with the likes of Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and Happn.
LONDON — Facebook announced Thursday that it has expanded its dating service to Europe, a little over a year after it launched in the U.S.
The platform, known simply as "Facebook Dating," is designed to help Facebook users find partners through things they have in common such as interests, events and groups. Those wanting to opt-in to the service, which has a dedicated space in the Facebook app, must set up a Facebook Dating profile.
Once registered, Facebook users can share personal "Stories" on their dating profile, as well as Stories from their main Facebook or Instagram account.
There's also a "Secret Crush" feature that enables users to select up nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers that they're interested in. If one of those people also selects you as their crush then a match is generated. Here is a bit more on how it all works.
Julia Portelly, a 26-year-old PR consultant, told CNBC that she'll definitely have a "poke around" the new dating service despite not using Facebook much these days. "I'm wondering if they [Facebook] will bring something completely new to the game, or just pinch features and repurpose them?" she said.
Another dating app user said: "I don't use Facebook much anymore and I don't know if I trust their ability to check people's identities, so probably not for me."
Unlike other dating services such as Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble, the Facebook Dating feature is completely free to use, with no premium offering.
A single male teacher in his early 30s told CNBC: "So many services these days taunt you with potential matches but then hide them behind paywalls. Set love free I say — I'm ready for Facebook to help set this straight."
Dating has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdowns and social distancing measures making in-person dates difficult in countries around the world. Politicians have faced tricky questions on the matter, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week saying "sex indoors" is banned for couples living in separate households in certain parts of the country.
Facebook said it is in the process of rolling out a feature that will allow singles who have matched on Facebook Dating to have video chats.
First announced at Facebook's F8 developer conference in May 2018, the dating feature launched in the U.S. in September 2019, immediately sending shares in Match, which owns dating app Tinder, down 4.5%. The service is now available in 52 countries worldwide including 32 in Europe.
Facebook claims that the platform has generated 1.5 billion matches across 20 countries since it launched. The company did not immediately respond when CNBC asked how many of its users have opted-in to Facebook Dating.
Shaz Younas, chief executive and founder of Muslim dating app muzmatch, said Facebook Dating has been a bit of a "non-event" so far.
"Match group stock dipped when it was announced but quickly recovered," said Younas, a former investment banker with Morgan Stanley. "Facebook branding isn't great, but it cannot be underestimated."
"Facebook's ability to match . . . individuals based on their actual behavior is unparalleled. That is a real edge for them that no one can match. Even if 1% of their userbase uses it, that is still a wildly successful product purely based on their size. That said, as has been shown in the dating world, dating app members are often on multiple platforms, so anything to normalise people using dating app products only helps the sector too."