Experts say traditional online dating sites like Match.com and OK Cupid could be at risk from Facebook’s new dating tool.
Although not much is known about the social network’s plan for the service yet, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the tool was aimed at creating “real, long-term relationships”.
John Kershaw, founder and chief executive of Manchester-based dating app software developer M14 Industries, said the early adopters of online dating were likely to be attracted to Facebook’s new service.
“You’ve got the Match.com generation, who started using online dating in the 1990s; then you’ve got the OK Cupid generation who started using online dating in the noughties, which was less formal and more fun, but still based around you answering thousands of questions,” he told the Press Association.
“Now you’ve got the Tinder generation, where it tries to infer a lot of that information and uses algorithms and machine learning so that you don’t even have to say what your preferences are, it can figure it out. ”
Kershaw surmises that Facebook’s new tool will attract older singles because younger generations are abandoning Facebook in favour of other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
“My guess would be that they would be targeting the OK Cupid and Match.com kind of territory because that’s where their demographic is, that’s where their strengths are, and that’s where most of the money is,” said Mr Kershaw.
“People who are in those generations are more willing to pay and it’s easier to monetise – especially if they keep emphasising that they are after real relationships not hook-ups.”
Mandy Ginsberg, chief executive of Match Group, which owns Tinder, Match.com and OK Cupid said: “We’re flattered that Facebook is coming into our space – and sees the global opportunity that we do – as Tinder continues to skyrocket.
“We’re surprised at the timing given the amount of personal and sensitive data that comes with this territory.
“Regardless, we’re going to continue to delight our users through product innovation and relentless focus on relationship success.”
Experts the Press Association spoke to also agreed that niche dating sites, where an individual can specify a particular cultural, personality or career differential they are looking for will not suffer greatly from the new entry into the market.
“It’ll leave them completely untouched,” said Kershaw.
“If you are looking for an easy way to meet someone and you really like beards, you are going to use Bristlr.
“If you are someone in the police force and you really want someone who will understand that you would go for Uniform Dating, or if you are Jewish and that’s a deal-breaker for you, you might use J Date.
“I think those niches will always be there.”
Dating coach and relationship expert James Preece said Facebook could encourage some people into online dating who may not previously have considered it, who may then migrate to niche sites over time.
“People will be using Facebook more and more for dating and that will bring more customers to the niche sites in the end, because it will become more acceptable.”