Facebook is taking its second plunge into the digital dating market. According to The Verge, the company has launched Sparked in a limited beta, an app for video speed-dating. Sparked gives Facebook users the chance to set four-minute video dates with other users of the social network. The key differentiator? The emphasis is on being compassionate.
Facebook's New Product Experimentation (NPE) team says that Sparked won't have public profiles, there's no swiping required, you don't need to send any direct messages, and it comes with no price tag. Sparked lets people cycle through speed video dates but the NPE team doesn't mention how many rounds are allowed per person. It could be unlimited or it could be that Sparked videos are restricted to a certain number. It also hasn’t yet explained how matching works.
In the case that a Sparked date goes well, the NPE team says that both users will then get a chance to have a second, 10-minute long video date. If that 10-minute video date goes well for both parties, Sparked recommends the users share their information with each other to take it to the next level. This could involve sharing phone numbers, email addresses, or (ideally for Facebook) social media accounts.
Kindness is the secret ingredient — Currently, applicants are being placed on a waitlist, and the launch timeline is unclear. Facebook says that kindness is crucial for Sparked users and, in order to join the dating app, applicants have to write what exactly makes them a considerate human being. This application will be reviewed by a Sparked team member.
While introspection sounds like a good writing prompt, it's hard to believe that Sparked applications won't involve some degree of embellishment from users. Emotional catfishing, if you will, where a user lies about being kind to get into the dating pool. But then, that’s not really that different from regular dating apps, and perhaps it’ll serve as a deterrent to the sorts of people who swipe right on everyone only to unmatch with people later.
Make it inclusive — Sparked asks users to specify if they would like to date men, women, and / or people who identify as non-binary. Users also get a chance to specify if they would like to date trans people.
As mentioned above, this isn't Facebook's first-ever dating app. In 2019, Facebook launched Dating (yep, that’s the name), which was later updated with options to import content from Instagram Stories. It's obvious that the company is trying to make its mark in the dating arena, but we highly doubt Facebook's Sparked or Dating will ever pose credible competition to the established and ubiquitous likes of Bumble, Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge (which today announced it’s own, video-orientated updates), or even Match.com. It’s weird enough trusting Facebook with your photos from a night out, let alone with your love life.