Inside Facebook’s Dating Experiment In Colombia

When Facebook’s dating service was announced in Colombia in September, Erika Ramos signed up.

She was fed up with the way some men on Tinder made inappropriate advances and the app’s insistence that she upgrade to Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold. She was 35 years old, single, and living in Bogotá.

Because of Facebook’s massive user base, she created a Facebook Dating profile and became an early adopter of a service that is now rolling out in other countries and has the potential to transform online dating.

“I like it,” she said, noting that she can access it through the Facebook app on her phone. “I get the impression that people spend more time on it than on Tinder simply because they’re already on Facebook and use the dating service occasionally, whereas Tinder requires you to download a separate app.”

She went on to say that she had yet to go on a date despite being in contact with two or three men. “It has a little bit of everything on it,” says the narrator. She explained, “I have friends who use it for hookups, but you can also use it to find friendship or longer-term relationships.”

Some people were perplexed by Facebook’s decision to launch its dating service in Colombia. Internet penetration and mobile phone ownership are lower in this country than in North America and Western Europe.

With a relatively young population of nearly 50 million people and several large urban centers — Bogotá, Medellin, Cali, and Barranquilla all have populations of more than 1 million people — Colombia was a good testing ground but not big enough to cause a stir if the service was a flop.

Read: Victims Of Romance Scams Say Facebook Dating Is a Train Wreck Waiting To Happen.

Facebook Dating is described as “a dedicated space within the Facebook app” by the company. Your dating history is kept hidden from your friends, who are also ruled out as potential matches because it’s separate from your main profile and news feed.

At first glance, it appears to be similar to other dating programs. Users create profiles, upload photos, and write short bios about themselves. They specify an age range for the people they want to meet as well as a travel distance. It is possible to select between people who have or do not have children.

Users tap on a profile photo to reveal a profile, from which they can choose between “pass” and “interested” instead of swiping left or right. When a user taps “interested,” they are required to leave a greeting, even if it is just a quick “hola!” before moving on to other profiles.

Facebook has stated that it wants to move away from the simple “yes/no” model in favor of a more thoughtful service for its users. Users can find a match through Facebook Events and Groups, but the program also suggests dates based on your Facebook activity and interests.

If Erika signs up for a salsa concert on Facebook Events, she can then activate the event on Facebook Dating, which will connect her with other people who will be attending the same event.

Three months after the service launched, Facebook is keeping quiet about how many people are using it, but it did say it received “a lot of useful feedback” when it rolled it out in Canada and Thailand in November.

Check Out: Facebook Dating – Are You Willing To Seek Love On Facebook?

“People there are highly social and tech-savvy,” according to a spokesperson, “with more than 24 million people in Canada and more than 51 million people in Thailand on Facebook every month.”

As it expanded into its second and third countries, it improved the service. There is now a “Second Look” option that allows users to reconsider people they previously rejected, as well as a “Pause” option that stops dating suggestions temporarily without deleting a profile.

The launch of Facebook in Canada enters a $5 billion online dating market that has grown at a 5% annual rate for the past five years and is expected to generate $142 million in revenue this year.

According to IBISWorld, a market research firm that specializes in the North American dating sector, this growth was attributed to “fading social stigmas” and increased mobile phone use. “Using the internet and matchmaking services is no longer taboo,” it stated.

According to Eharmony, which has a 15% market share in Canada, a quarter of Canadians have tried online dating.

Since Facebook announced it would launch in Canada, Match Group’s stock has dropped by about a fifth. OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Tinder are owned by Match Group, which has a 31 percent market share in Canada.

Read Also: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Dismissed Tinder Cofounder As Irrelevant But Still Let Dating App Get Special Access To Users’ Data

The biggest roadblock to the service’s success, according to observers, is Facebook’s trust issues, which have arisen as a result of a series of allegations about the company’s use of the data it collects.

However, love triumphs over all, including concerns about online privacy, for users like Erika.

“Of course, you should be cautious. There are a lot of crazy people out there, and Colombians aren’t known for their trustworthiness,” she explained. “However, this is true of all types of dating, not just Facebook dating,” says the author.

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