At SEXTECHGUIDE, we try to bring you news of products and services that we believe are safe, secure and private. Before we go any further, we’d better make it clear – this isn’t that.

So while we’re happy to announce that Facebook has launched ‘Virtual Dating’ using Messenger, we’ll be reminding you again that Facebook has a pretty horrific track record for personal data.

That aside, for anyone intrepid enough to try Facebook Dating, the new feature lets you video call your matches and stage suitably socially-distant dates, at a time when a quarter of the world is in lockdown.

While already announced, the feature is coming in the “months ahead”, suggesting that it might arrive too late for the bizarre circumstances we’re currently living through.

Once you’re matched inside Facebook Dating, you or the other party can request a video date, which can either be accepted or declined. If it’s accepted, a video chat powered by Messenger pops up and you can get to know each other better.

It’s a good way of avoiding catfishers and time-wasters, even in ‘regular times’ and while this global crisis is restricting our style somewhat, it makes a great way of getting ahead of the game, ready for when we can touch each other again.

The thing is though – as we’ve said before – we’re not really down with Facebook Dating. There’s a saying that ‘if the service is free, the price is you’. Facebook’s business model is around selling personal data to advertisers. The company is not alone in that, but it fails at it more than most. Hence, caution is advised.

Fortunately, for us at least, this is Facebook Dating playing catch-up. Services like Tinder, Bumble and even eHarmony are already offering some form of video dating – though Tinder only does it through messaging, rather than live streams, at least as yet.

Facebook Dating is currently available to US users. A planned European rollout on February 14 was delayed at the beginning of the current pandemic.

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