Facebook Launches Its Highly Anticipated New Dating Service in Colombia

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Facebook Dating Launches in Colombia

Facebook has officially entered the dating app game, launching its new feature Facebook Dating exclusively for users in Colombia. Since the announcement of the new service in May at the company’s annual developers conference, the online dating industry has been anxious for how Facebook might upend the market.

Facebook chose Colombia because online dating is a “pervasive behavior” there according to Nathan Sharp, product manager for Facebook Dating. The country has a population of 48.6 million, giving Facebook the opportunity to see how people use it and how it compares to other dating apps. There are about 200 million single Facebook users globally, according to Sharp, a huge population to reach.

The service is currently available only through the social media giant’s mobile app, and users have to opt in to the service to use it. Also, Facebook Dating is separate from the regular Facebook service, so a user’s dating activity will not be visible to friends on social media. Facebook intends to compete directly with dating apps, but the company’s focus is on connecting people to form relationships, moving away from superficial swiping that’s popular on apps like Tinder.

"We wanted to make it apparent these are people you're considering. It's not just a profile," Sharp told CNET. "This should be about relationships, not one-night stands."

Facebook’s entry into the dating space is not without controversy. Last year, the company didn’t adequately protect personal information from 87 million users when a third party, Cambridge Analytica, stole Facebook users’ data for its own research in the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify in front of Congress as to how such a privacy breach could take place. The company’s dating service has been called into question as a result, as some contend Facebook can’t be trusted to properly handle more intimate details about its users.

"Given their track record with being good custodians of data, I'd be concerned," Jen King, director of Consumer Privacy at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, told CNET. "But I feel like people who are going to opt into Facebook matching them with dates probably don't have that level of skepticism."

Facebook is making efforts to put its customers’ minds at ease by stating that no data from its dating service will be used for targeted advertising. Plus, if you delete your Facebook profile, your data will also be deleted, according to the company.

Still, Facebook Dating holds promise because of the extensive amount of data the company can mine to connect people to each other. In fact, there had been speculation for years that Facebook would launch its own dating platform, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Online dating is a $3 billion market, and is saturated with major apps like Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid, as well as new apps joining all the time. Still, Facebook intends to shake things up.