The company announced today that Facebook will soon allow users to go on “virtual dating” The social network is planning to introduce a new video calling feature to enable users of its Facebook dating service to connect and video call over Messenger as an alternative to real-world dating. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced people to stay home and practice social distance, this kind of feature is much in demand.
But it’s a significant challenge for your business for online dating apps that aim to connect people in the real world.
Government lockdowns have for the time being limited the places where online daters might meet up for their first date. Restaurants, malls, bars, and other retail establishments are closed across regions affected by the outbreak of coronavirus. But even if those restrictions lift, many users of the online dating app will be careful to meet strangers for the first-time dates you get-to-know. Video chat offers a safer way to explore potential linkages with their matches.
When the new functionality for Facebook Dating goes live, online daters can invite a match to a virtual date. The recipient may choose to either accept or decline the offer via a pop-up that will appear.
If they accept, the users of Facebook Dating will be connected in a Facebook Messenger powered video chat to get to know each other.
As the feature is still being developed, in terms of privacy and security features, Facebook has declined to share more specific details about how it will work.
As a result of the pandemic, Facebook isn’t the first online dating service to pivot video. But also many rival dating apps adopted video features well before coronavirus hit.
For example, Bumble has offered voice and video calls for roughly a year in its app. There, the feature works like a normal phone call or FaceTime for Apple. Users do not, however, need to share their phone number or other private information, such as an email address, which makes it safer.
Over the past two months, the company says use of the feature has spiked as users embrace virtual dating.
Match Group, meanwhile, has more recently rolled out video across a number of the dating apps that it operates.
The Match app added video chat this month which allows users who have already matched to connect via video calls. Match-owned Hinge also rolled out a prompt for “Dating from Home” and is also preparing its own live video date feature, Match says. Other Match property, Plenty of Fish (PoF), launched live streaming in March, giving singles a new way to hang out with friends and potential matches.
Match Group’s flagship app Tinder hasn’t embraced live video dates yet but still provides users with a way to add video to their profiles. The company was unable to comment on whether or not video dating was in Tinder’s works, but in the post-COVID era it would be almost bizarre not to offer such feature
Other dating apps also launched video dating, including eHarmony and a number of lesser-known dating apps that now hope to gain traction for their video dating concepts.
Facebook says the feature will roll out in the coming months and be available wherever Facebook Dating is available.