Facebook has launched its own dating app which will allow users to discover if they have any secret admirers among their friends.
Facebook Dating became available to users in the US on Thursday and was expected to launch in the UK and Europe early next year.
The long-awaited app is part of the main Facebook app, but to access it users need to create a standalone profile.
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It will also integrate with Instagram, allowing users to feature their photos and posts on their dating profiles.
But perhaps the most anticipated feature is Secret Crush, which lets users select up to nine Facebook friends they like more than just friends.
Those selected as a secret crush will receive an anonymous notification, and if that person also adds their secret admirer to their Secret Crush list the pair will be matched together, revealing both names.
The Secret Crush feature was first announced in April 2018 at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, revealing how it leverages users’ existing network of friends to connect them to secret admirers.
The announcement was greeted with surprise by the CEO of dating giant Match Group, which owns Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Match.com.
Mandy Ginsberg said she welcomed the competition but it came at a time when Facebook had been hit with a major privacy scandal involving the personal data of millions of its users.
“We’re surprised at the timing given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory,” Ms Ginsberg said at the time.
“Regardless, we’re going to continue to delight our users through product innovation and relentless focus on relationship success. We understand this category better than anyone.”
Despite these reassurances, shares with Match Group fell by more than 20 per cent following Facebook’s announcement.
When addressing privacy concerns, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new Dating feature had been designed with “safety in mind from the beginning” and that the company had made improvements to its security.
“Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends,” he said.
“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships – not just for hookups.”
Since 2018 Facebook has continued to be plagued by privacy scandals.
This week a security researcher discovered an unsecured database of 419 million phone numbers of Facebook users on the internet.