Arguably Facebook Dating’s biggest weakness, is Facebook’s poor reputation when it comes to user privacy
As popular and successful as Facebook has been, the site is not without its flaws. Facebook has been involved in a handful of privacy scandals in recent years, one of which very significantly involved the political strategy firm Cambridge Analytica (Granville, 2018). The firm had gained access to 50 million Facebook profiles while working on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which could then be used to create more effective political advertisements targeted to specific users by examining their “personality, motives, lifestyles, and attitudes and opinions” (Tuten Solomon, 2018, p. 41), a marketing tactic known as psychographic segmentation. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first instance of Facebook violating the privacy of its users, and it’s likely not the last.
- Distribution of Facebook users in the United States as of , by age group
- Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of , by age group
Another weakness of Facebook Dating is Facebook’s demographic. When Facebook was in its early stages of development, it was primarily used by college and high school students. However, over the years, younger generations have turned to social media sites and apps like Instagram instead of Facebook, leaving behind mostly middle-aged users. That being said, the fact that Facebook Dating offers the opportunity to integrate Instagram profiles, might be enough to attract younger users back to the platform.
Although Facebook has its obvious weaknesses, Facebook Dating has the potential to address them, and possibly improve the platform to grow past its damaged reputation. For instance, as a result of the repeated privacy scandals, Facebook has been desperately trying to convince the public that they’ve improved the security of their services. The efforts to convince the public of the newly bolstered security led to the article at the forefront of the launch of Facebook Dating, which that “Safety, security and privacy are at the forefront of this product” (Sharp, 2019). As an effort to further enhance user safety, Facebook Dating users are also given the ability to block or report anyone, and are prohibited from sending pictures, videos, money, or links. This text-only form of messaging sets Facebook Dating apart from its competitors such as Bumble and Grindr, which do allow photo-messaging. These efforts to protect user privacy and safety may in turn make Facebook Dating more appealing to individuals that have avoided online dating because they felt unsafe.
As mentioned earlier, Facebook’s users are primarily middle-aged, which provides Facebook Dating with two possibilities. The first possibility is to fill the void of middle-aged online dating services. Older individuals may not feel comfortable making profiles on dating sites that cater to and are predominantly filled with younger users. However, Facebook Dating would allow middle-aged users to connect with people their own age on a site they are already able to comfortably navigate.
The second possibility is to draw younger generations back to Uniform dating only the platform by use of the Facebook Dating feature. The option to integrate Instagram into Facebook Dating makes the site more enticing, since Instagram caters to younger demographics than Facebook does. Additionally, the “Secret Crush” feature serves as a tempting incentive that is exclusive to Facebook Dating.
Despite these promising opportunities, there are still many threats that Facebook Dating must face. The most significant threat is simply the number of dating services that are already well-established on the market, each with their own niche attractions. Match and eHarmony have been around for almost two decades, Tinder introduced the concept of “swiping”, Bumble requires female users to make the first move, Grindr is geared toward the LGBTQ+ community, and so on. All these choices create plenty of competition for Facebook Dating, and it will only get worse as new services continue to join the already saturated market of online dating.