Census data estimates from 2019 suggest that nearly 4 million unmarried people call New York City home Cougar dating service, meaning Facebook Dating has about 7 percent of the city’s singles on it
Dawn Hallson has tried nearly every dating app you can think of – Tinder, Bumble, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, and Match, just to name a few. So when a friend told her about Facebook Dating, she figured, why not give it a shot? She filled out her height, whether she has kids, where she lives, and her sexual orientation, and then looked around at who might be available on the world’s largest social network.
“It was exactly the same as all the other apps,” she says. “You match with someone. They don’t contact you. If they do contact you, they just pass the time of day with you – never much with anyone that’s attractive unless they actually want just sex, basically.”
She only met up with one person from Facebook Dating, which fizzled out when he tried to hook up on the first date. After that, she quit. She lasted about six weeks.
Since then, the company hasn’t said much. The last time dating was talked about at length on an earnings call was right after it launched. In that call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he thought it was “already one of the top dating services, and we expect to continue growing.” In a release announcing its international expansion to Europe this past October, the company said it had made over 1.5 billion matches up until that point. Tinder, meanwhile, advertises “over 55 billion matches made” on its website.
But a year and a half after launch, Facebook Dating is far from a hit. The company hasn’t shared overall usage numbers, and data found by The Verge suggests the app is smaller than competing options. The company only shares data when it wants to, and because the service lives within the broader Facebook app, there’s no way to measure download numbers.
Facebook first introduced its dating product as a test in Colombia in 2018 and brought it Stateside in
However, The Verge has found multiple screenshots that suggest the actual size of Facebook’s dating product isn’t all that large but that it’s growing. The company runs in-house ads that advertise the number of users it has in specific regions. In the country’s largest city, New York, for example, the company advertised 278,000 singles “currently dating” in the city this week. In Indianapolis last month, it advertised 43,000 people, and in Ottawa, Canada, earlier this month, it claimed to have 24,000. Users in smaller cities also see hyper-localized data. In Bellingham, Washington, Facebook says it has 2,000 single people using it. Days after its launch in Ireland, Facebook advertised having 1,000 people on the service in Dublin. The numbers appear to be dynamic and adjusting, too. Just last week, the same in-house ad in New York City advertised around 2,000 fewer people, and a month ago, it showed 9,000 fewer, suggesting these in-feed ads are successfully signing up new users.
Who needs Facebook dating when you get told “God called upon me to tell me that he wants me to take you as my wife” from random LDS Polygamists about 2x a month in the grocery store?
In a statement to The Verge, a Match Group spokesperson said, “We have a number of brands with more active users than that in NYC, including Tinder and Hinge.” They wouldn’t elaborate on numbers. In its latest earnings, however, Match Group noted that the average number of paying subscribers across its apps last quarter reached 10.9 million split about equally between North America and the rest of the world – let alone the number of people using its apps for free.