A common complaint about dating in the time of Tinder is that people often end up on dates with people about whom they know little to nothing. As I wrote last year in a story about how Tinder and apps like it had transformed dating in just half a decade, being on the apps often means dating in a sort of context vacuum:
Friends, co-workers, classmates, and/or relatives don’t show up to flesh out the complete picture of who a person is until further on in the timeline of a relationship—it’s unlikely that someone would introduce a blind date to friends right away. In the “old model” of dating, by contrast, the circumstances under which two people met organically could provide at least some measure of common ground between them.
By all accounts, people still love using Tinder, Bumble, and other apps like them, or at least begrudgingly accept them as the modern way to find dates or partners. Last year, Tinder’s user base worldwide was estimated to be about 50 million. But when shopping through every potential date in your geographic area with little more to go on than a photo and a couple of lines of bio becomes the norm, people can feel burned-out, and long for the days of offline dating.
Facebook, a gigantic online repository for information about nearly 3 billion people’s hobbies, social circles, family members, job and education history, and relationship history—in other words, a gigantic online repository for people’s context—appears to have been paying attention to these gripes. Facebook’s matchmaking service, called Facebook Dating, launched Thursday in the United States after debuting in 19 other countries earlier this year, and it is explicitly trying to inject some of the more human aspects back into online dating through features that mimic the ways in which people used to meet-cute before the Tinder age.