Got a crush on one of your friends? Soon, Facebook can let them know for you!
As if Facebook’s monopoly on how we interact online could get any more dominant but Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to be master and commander of our digital social lives just took another giant leap forward. Secret Crush is set to be the latest Facebook feature which aims to bring the internet giants a slice of the dating app world. Still in the pipeline but already being trialed in other countries, Facebook Dating is set to launch and could soon be letting your friends in on your secret crushes.
In this feature, we take a look at what Secret Crush aims to offer its users, what the social implications might be and whether or not it can really compete with apps like Tinder.
The Online Dating Market
According to data produced by Forbes, there are more than 8,000 dating sites and apps worldwide with everything from the globally dominant hook-up app, Tinder to niche sites like Gluten Free Singles (give us strength) or Clown Dating (yes, it’s a thing).
Estimates suggest that as many as 50 million Americans have tried online dating and that the average annual spend on subscriptions and app downloads is around $243 per annum. Reports on revenue for the industry vary wildly but conservative estimates suggest that online dating is a lucrative billion-dollar market.
The fact is that the online dating market is huge and presents a significant opportunity to make money so it’s no surprise that Facebook wants in on the action.
What is Facebook Dating?
Facebook Dating was mooted as an upcoming idea as far back as Spring 2018 but, despite internal trials and some international versions being tested, the behemoth social networking company has so far not launched an official global product.
Offering existing Facebook users with the option to create a dating profile using data from their accounts, when it finally arrives, Facebook dating is expected to be similar to eHarmony and OkCupid. It will offer profile matching services based on mutual connections and interests and be focused more on dating rather than hooking up. It is, apparently, not going to feature the ubiquitous ‘swipe left/right’ interface like geo-location based apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Grindr.
What is Secret Crush?
Secret Crush will be a feature within the Facebook Dating platform that will apparently enable users to find out exactly which of their friends (or connections within a network) have been crushing on them.
Designed to instantly connect people with users they already know, Secret Crush is designed to be an ‘ice-breaker’ by allowing members to add other users they want to their dating network.
How does Secret Crush work?
Each dating profile user has the option to add up to 9 ‘Friends’ from their network that they LIKE ‘Like’ and, if one or more of those people do the same with your profile then you get a match. Its similar to some other dating apps which use Facebook as a primary log-in and is not a revolutionary idea.
This feature will be in addition to the main Facebook Dating service which will offer a more traditional matchmaking service.
How Secret will a Secret Crush Be?
There are some concerns among Facebook users that the feature won’t be secure enough and could mean risking ‘exposure’ to a wider network. These fears could be unfounded but Facebook does have a history of the odd privacy breach (and scandal) so maybe this is part of the reason for the delay in the launch?
Facebook is assuring users that Secret Crush will be a private feature that is only shared between the two parties who have expressed an interest in each other. Secret Crush is not something that is shared on your wall or as a visible part of your activity feed. The official line is that if your crush doesn’t have a Facebook dating app profile and hasn’t put you on their Secret Crush list then your lusting after them remains a secret.
It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike other data obtained via Facebook, activities logged in the dating app will not be used for its advertising algorithms or shared externally. Heard that somewhere before? Yeah, Facebook is so huge and has so many subsidiary outlets that it isn’t the external sharing many users are concerned about.
When Will Facebook’s Secret Crush Be Available?
There is no official launch date for a global release of the Secret Crush feature although it is already available in a dozen or so countries worldwide (including Colombia, Thailand and Canada). The latest news is that the roll-out will occur by the end of 2019 so, watch this space and get ready to find out which of your Facebook friends secretly (or not so much anymore) want to get inside your pants.
Will Facebook’s Secret Crush Replace Tinder?
And, finally, the question on many people’s lips is just how popular will Secret Crush be? Can it represent a significant threat to established apps like Tinder, Zoosk and Ok Cupid?
Certainly, Facebook has the capacity to be put the wind up these companies and hits the ground running in the dating market by coming to the table with a user base in excess of 2.23 billion people.
When the initial bombshell dropped in 2018 that Facebook would be developing a dating feature for its platform, shares in the Match Group, for instance, fell sharply from around $46 to $35. However, since then prices in the company have been rising and now stand at around $68.
Match Group owns a lot of dating apps including Tinder and Hinge as well as OkCupid. Despite the robust recovery of their share prices, investors are still concerned about how the launch of Secret Crush will affect the company’s market share when it gets a global launch. But should they be worried?
As the stats above demonstrate, the fact that there are 8,000 dating apps including those that offer a niche service means that there should be room for new market entrants for online dating particularly when they are offering different things. Certainly Tinder is very different to OkCupid and both can’t hope to compete with the likes of Clown Dating!
Early reactions from the announcement of Facebook’s Secret Crush also suggest a less than enthusiastic reception by some whilst others cannot wait to start cyber crushing on their mates.
What is true is that Facebook does have another advantage (other than volume) over the likes of Tinder and eHarmony and that’s commonality among its users. Data shows that, despite the rise of online dating, the most popular way to meet a prospective partner is still at a social event or through having friends in common. In this way, Facebook has the edge with its combination of digital socializing and pooling from a network of existing friendship groups.
In the long run, Facebook Dating is unlikely to replace Tinder when it comes to a hook-up app. As far as the anecdotal evidence goes, hook-up apps are more popular because of their anonymity so the further you can get from your social circle the better. Instead Secret Crush and Facebook Dating is far more likely to worry the likes of eHarmony and OkCupid.
So, there you have it, the latest online dating app with the power to do what your high school friends did for you back then….tell your secret crush that you’re digging on them. Time will tell if Facebook can actually deliver an online dating app that can stand the test of time but, for the moment, we can get nostalgic that Facebook is finally bringing back its ‘Poke’ mechanism. Only this time the feature could lead to an actual poke rather than a virtual one.