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Nearly 35 million people in the United States use dating apps, and that number is only expected to climb in the coming years. According to a study from Statista, there will be 37.5 million users across dating apps swiping, clicking and setting up dates from their phones by the year 2023. 

It’s no wonder, then, that the rollout of Facebook Dating is right around the corner. After a soft launch in five countries, Facebook announced that 19 countries can now use the popular social media site for dating, with more regions to come later this year. It seems like a logical move for Facebook, as it currently boasts more than 2.4 billion users worldwide.

How does Facebook Dating work?

Unlike Tinder, where you swipe right or left on potential matches, Facebook Dating lets you discover singles through common interests and mutual friends. 

Your Facebook Dating profile is separate from your regular Facebook profile, but it relies on some of the data Facebook already has about you to find an ideal romantic match. Your Dating profile will pull your first name and age from your regular Facebook profile. From there, you’ll fill out some basic profile information, such as your location, gender and your gender dating preferences. 

You can also provide some optional details, like religion, job title, employer, height and whether you have children. Then you can choose up to nine photos of yourself to show off, or answer some “icebreaker” questions provided by Facebook to help spark a conversation with interested users.

With a completed profile, Facebook Dating will then use an algorithm to analyze mutual friends (nobody on your current friends list), common interests, groups and events, then find users within a certain geographical area that have high potential compatibility with you. Like the popular “suggested for you” posts that pop up on your regular Facebook feed, you’ll see actual people being “suggested for you” on your Facebook Dating profile. 

To express interest in someone’s profile, simply tap the “Interested” button. The app limits you to 100 taps per day, but you can see who’s expressed interest in you at any time (even if you haven’t indicated your interest in them).

Like other dating apps, Facebook Dating allows you to filter profiles using certain characteristics, so you can be sure you’re only seeing people you’ll actually want to date. You can also select “Not Interested” on someone’s profile to avoid seeing them in the future.

What makes Facebook Dating different from other apps?

Although the Facebook Dating app seems similar to other dating apps on the surface, it’s distinguishing itself from the likes of Tinder in a few key ways.

For one thing, there’s no swiping for matches; as mentioned above, you’ll have to express your interest by clicking a suggested match’s profile. You’ll also have to comment on a photo or respond to an icebreaker question if you want to get to know someone better—no cheesy opening lines or “Hey, what’s up” messages here. This ties into Facebook’s overall mission of sparking conversations and encouraging “meaningful relationships.”

What about Secret Crush?

While Facebook Dating’s algorithm was designed not to show you profiles from your existing friends list, you may be harboring feelings for someone you’re already connected with. That’s why Facebook now offers its Dating users a private way of making a love connection with people on their friends list: Secret Crush. Finally, you can secretly admit you’re crushing on your friend—and the only way your friend will find out is if they also admit via the feature that they have a crush on you. If you do both “crush” each other, the friend you like-like receives a notification when you trigger the crush button. 

As Facebook Dating product manager Charmaine Hung told TechCrunch, the Secret Crush feature allows users to find compatible romantic matches among their existing friend list, without the fear of rejection you might face if you directly admit to having a crush on someone. To ward off any big issues with Secret Crush, Facebook limits you to nine total crushes, and you can only swap out one of those crushes per day. 

Only users who are signed up for Facebook Dating will be able to access the Secret Crush feature.

Is there a separate Facebook Dating app?

There’s no additional app for Facebook Dating. The feature exists within Facebook, but you’ll have to create a separate Facebook Dating profile to use it. If you’re not already on Facebook, you’ll need to create both a regular profile and a Dating profile to take advantage of this new feature.

Who can use Facebook Dating?

If you’re living in Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Argentina or Thailand, then Facebook Dating is nothing new—you’ve had access to the app for the past year. In April 2019, Facebook Dating expanded into the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana and Suriname. 

As of the publish date of this article, the official Facebook Dating app release dates for the United States and Europe haven’t been announced, but Facebook says the new dating service will launch in the U.S. by the end of 2019. 

What information does Facebook Dating collect?

Facebook Dating seems to be heavily focused on privacy, and the company claims that only your first name and age are ported over from your regular Facebook profile. It is worth noting, though, that its algorithm relies on reading your friend list, interests, events and other basic information that help it determine your compatibility with other users.

As with any online profile, it’s safe to assume that Facebook Dating will collect any information you provide directly on this separate platform, such as Dating profile information, photos and icebreaker answers. However, there’s no way of knowing how the social media company might use that data.

Is Facebook Dating safe?

At the front of the Facebook Dating app rollout, Mark Zuckerberg assured audiences at his company’s annual software developer conference, F8, that privacy and safety were at the forefront of Facebook’s priorities. Your Facebook Dating profile won’t be visible to your friends, and it also won’t suddenly show up in news feeds. 

To avoid inappropriate photos, spammy links and romance scams, Facebook Dating’s special private messaging inbox only allows users to send text and emoji messages. Your Dating messages won’t connect to your regular Messaging inbox, either. However, Facebook’s recent privacy-related scandals, including the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, may still be too fresh in some American minds to fully trust the social media titan with their love lives. 

If you do decide to use Facebook Dating and meet up with someone you connect with there, it’s always good to follow some basic first-date safety tips. Before you go, you may want to do a thorough investigation of your date’s Facebook profile or even look them up on a people search service. When you do meet up IRL, choose a busy, public location, take your own transportation to the date, and let someone you trust know where you’ll be.

Dating expert and coach Carmelia Ray said singles should consider turning on their phone’s location-sharing function during a date so family and friends can pinpoint exactly where you are if you need help. If you feel like things are about to go south, you can always excuse yourself and end the date early.

Should I sign up for Facebook Dating?

It’s too soon to tell whether the Facebook Dating app will be worth using. That being said, creating a Facebook Dating profile seems simple enough, and it doesn’t seem to be too revealing of your personal information—you pick and choose what other eligible singles see. Plus, you won’t have to worry about nosy friends and family. 

If you’re already using Facebook and are ready to move beyond Tinder hookups, you may as well give Facebook Dating a shot when it’s available where you live. Who knows? That hottie who’s been on your friend list for years might also press that Secret Crush button on you.