Facebook is harking back its early days as a “hot-or-not” platform with the June 18 launch of a dating app feature, Secret Crush.
Secret Crush will allow its Facebook users to select up to nine friends they want to date, offering a competitive advantage over modern dating apps that don’t have a direct mechanism to connect you with those you already know.
The premise of Secret Crush isn’t a novel concept, with one of Facebook’s oldest social media competitors, Friendster, introducing a similar feature in 2012, but today’s modern dating apps are yet to try it.
With Facebook being the most popular social media networking website, with an automatic database of billions of users already built in, Secret Crush can have untapped access to our data, if we choose to allow it.
It’s not hard to imagine how this can be perceived as yet another example of personal privacy intrusion, according to Dr Eugene Chan, senior lecturer in Monash’s Department of Marketing.
“The database of information that Facebook has on its users may make it easier to help users identify compatibility, but it’s also another intrusion into privacy,” Dr Chan said.
"Given its recent coverage in the news about privacy leaks, people will think that Facebook is only collecting more data."
“Sure, the Secret Crush app will only use existing information on your profiles, but given its recent coverage in the news about privacy leaks, people will think that Facebook is only collecting more data.
“Even if it’s not true, perception is key. So, the question to the user is – how much do you weigh your personal privacy over your chance at finding love?”
This is a question most will find hard to answer, but one that’s important to consider if you’re sitting on the fence on whether to activate the new app.
What about policy?
On top of privacy concerns, Facebook’s entrance into the dating app market poses concerns from a policy perspective.
“Facebook is already so big – even companies have Facebook-built social networking intranet sites,” Dr Chan noted.
“Recently, there was a call by a Facebook co-founder to break up the internet giant that he once built.
“More people may start taking hold of this call to reform social media and internet companies, so they can’t invade our love lives as well.”
Friends vs meeting new people
But, it’s not all bad. With so many dating apps out there, Facebook users may see Secret Crush as a way to consolidate their potential prospects into one platform, and find a long-lasting relationship with someone you already know.
“It’s true that Facebook has a certain advantage. People are addicted to it, and so it’s much easier to stay on Facebook and use its apps – including Secret Crush – rather than visit dating apps external to the platform including the likes of Tinder, Bumble, eHarmony, Grindr and so forth,” Dr Chan said.
“Some people might not mind dating someone who they have previously considered a friend, and Secret Crush certainly caters to this.”
Forming a long-lasting relationship with people you know may work for some, however the app doesn’t help you meet new people.
“There will be those who prefer keeping the ‘friend’ status as-is, and so they’ll find themselves staying on more traditional dating apps that help you find new relationships,” Dr Chan added.