Facebook’s team of developers are working on a new dating app that would work externally from the social networking app.
Sparked is a new Facebook product spotted by The Verge offering four-minute video dates in a virtual speed dating scenario.
While it’s not yet been officially announced, a team from Facebook’s R&D department – New Product Experimentation (NPE) – is currently working on a beta version, the post suggests. And, as far as we can tell from the leaked information thus far, Sparked will move away from the traditional swipe model of dating apps.
“Sparked is an early experiment by New Product Experimentation,” a Facebook spokesperson from the NPE Team told TechCrunch. “We’re exploring how video-first speed dating can help people find love online.”
For the uninitiated, many of the big dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble show you a range of people in your geographical vicinity whom you can swipe left on (to reject) or swipe right (to potentially match with them). Then you can message them directly and arrange to meet up in real life.
Sparked will be different in that there is no swipe function planned. Instead, users will attend a virtual speed-dating event where daters will be matched up and participate in a series of four-minute video dates. When the time runs out, a new video call with a different user will be connected. If a date goes well, there’s an option to follow-up with a 10-minute video call.
The team told Techcrunch the app is undergoing a “small, external beta test” to generate insights on the product so far to and to improve people’s experiences with Facebook products.
Unlike Facebook Dating, a feature of the Facebook app that’s been rolling out since 2018, Sparked will be available as a separate app.
However, as a Facebook-owned product, it is likely to still use personal data in the same way as its other applications.
Facebook Dating announced plans to add Messenger-powered virtual video dates in May 2020, at at time when many of its competitors had already rolled out video call technology. It seems that Sparked is an experiment by Facebook to incorporate its insights around virtual dating from a year where many of us were locked down at home, to provide a new offering for the dating app market.
Will it take off, though? Facebook has a rocky past with privacy concerns. So it depends if you’re happy to hand over yet more data to a global giant whose business model is to sell your personal information.