Most of the Facebook groups I belong to are useless for dating purposes: a high-school friend’s bridal party, a space for mall food-court coffee-shop employees to trade shifts. An alumni group, my God. This is not Facebook’s fault; this is my fault. Good Facebook Dating users will first be good Facebook users—as in active Facebook users, diligently logging each time they go someplace where eligible people might be lurking, scrolling through their phone, too. If that doesn’t work, an ambitious dater could start joining more groups. It’s a better idea for how to meet people who actually move in the same real-world spaces you do, but it requires regularly documenting your real-world movements and interests on Facebook.
Relatedly, the easiest way to populate your profile is by filling it with your Instagram photos. Later this year, Facebook Dating users will be able to cross-post their Instagram Stories to their dating profiles. When I asked Hung whether part of the goal of Facebook Dating was to bring young people over from Instagram to the flagship app, she said, “We’re always looking for opportunities where we can see where people like to share. Do people like to share on Facebook? Do people like to share on Instagram? And we want to meet people where they’re already sharing. We’re really excited that we’re bringing Instagram into that.”
I don’t know what that means on a sentence level, but I think probably it’s a yes, generally.
If you’re already good at sharing, and posting, and RSVP-ing, and projecting an authentic self that’s appealing to others online, Facebook Dating might feel, as intended, like a “superpower.” But I am a bad Facebook user, and so I am a bad Facebook dater. At the end of my two-week trial, I had eight matches and two messages: One was “Hey kaitlyn,” and the other was “Sup I’m only here for hookups and memes,” with a laugh-crying emoji. The notifications showed up in my main notifications tab, next to the information that I’d been tagged in photos from my cousin’s wedding.
Even so, Facebook Dating will likely help lots of people find love, for free. Hung repeats that Facebook has no plans to monetize Dating, ever, in any way—no fees, no ads. She even seems annoyed with me for asking. “Yup, there’s no advertising in Facebook Dating, and nothing you do will be shared to advertisers,” she says. “Nothing you do on Facebook Dating will be shared to advertisers.”
The cost of an actually good, useful, dignified dating app is more activity, more engagement, more personal information. When Facebook spokespeople talk about entwining Instagram Stories and Facebook Dating, they speak energetically of how it will make profiles more “authentic”—a word that has been bled of all meaning not by Tinder, but by Instagram itself over the course of the past eight years.