Facebook is channeling its earliest days as a hot-or-not website for college students with a new feature called Secret Crush. To be announced today at the social network’s annual F8 developer conference, Secret Crush will allow Facebook Dating users to select up to nine friends they want to express interest in. Think of it like matching on Tinder or Bumble, except you get to hand-pick the specific friends you want to date ahead of time, instead of hoping their profiles show up in the queue. What could go wrong?
Here’s how it’s supposed to work. If someone adds you to their Secret Crush list, Facebook will send you a notification saying “A friend added you as a secret crush.” If you then pick the same person for your list, Facebook will match you together and reveal your names. If the feelings are only one-sided, the unrequited lover’s identity remains secret. The object of their affection is then left to wonder who may have a crush on them, with no way to find out. The feature will be available only in countries where Facebook has rolled out its Dating service , including Colombia, Canada, Thailand, Argentina, and Mexico, as well as 14 new countries in Asia and South America introduced today. If you don’t already have a Dating profile, you can’t receive Secret Crush notifications.
Secret Crush will help give Facebook an advantage over competing dating apps , which can’t similarly leverage information about your existing friendships. Tinder is great if you want to meet someone outside your social circle, but it doesn’t offer a direct mechanism to connect you with those you already know in real life. Facebook is likely hoping that instead of getting someone’s number at a party, you’ll add them on Facebook and then to your Secret Crush list.
Other modern dating apps haven’t tried it, but that doesn’t exactly mean Secret Crush is innovative. One of Facebook’s oldest social media competitors, Friendster , introduced a similar feature way back in 2012. The dating site GoodCrush, first launched at Princeton University in 2007, also had a nearly identical premise.
It’s not hard to imagine how Secret Crush could go wrong. You could easily prank or even bully someone by adding them to your crush list under false pretenses. One WIRED staffer who used GoodCrush in college reported they and their best friend “spent a full semester fucking with another friend through this service.” But Secret Crush will likely be great for engagement purposes. Using Facebook to scroll through baby photos may be a snooze, but who doesn’t want to find out that someone has a crush on them?
Facebook says it won’t use data from Dating or Secret Crush to make content or advertising decisions. For example, just because you add someone to your Secret Crush list doesn’t mean you will see more of their posts in your News Feed. “All activity that occurs in FB Dating stays in FB Dating and will not be shared externally,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email.
Facebook will also announce today that Dating is immediately coming to several new locations in South America and Asia, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Guyana, Uruguay, and Suriname. Secret Crush will start rolling out to each locale Tuesday. For now, singles in the United States remain out of luck.
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