SAN FRANCISCO, April 16 ― Facebook is branching out into virtual speed dating. The social network is currently testing a new application called Sparked. And while this isn't Facebook's first foray into the business of love, this time, the social network will offer daters short, four-minute speed dates via a platform that relies on video rather than direct messaging.

Facebook is counting on the kindness of singletons looking for love to stand out from competitors in the world of online dating. Billed as “video dating with kind people,” the Sparked app promises something different from other products on the market. Here, there's no direct messaging, no public profiles and no “swiping” ― the thumb-scrolling through profiles made popular by the Tinder dating app. In any case, that's what this new platform ― which is still being tested ― appears to offer, according to information reported by The Verge.

A first four-minute video date

The concept is similar to the once-popular real-world speed-dating events, where daters met lots of other hopefuls face to face for a very short amount of time. The Sparked experience echoes this with four-minute video chats, giving daters the time to decide whether they want to take things further with a second, 10-minute video date. It's as yet unclear how many dates each user might meet in one session.

Kindness and diversity

Kindness is a central theme of this new platform, currently being tested. To sign up, users are asked to explain what makes them a kind dater. According to The Verge, their answers are then reviewed ― by a human ― before the application proposes “events” that will enable the daters to meet.

Users will be free to choose gender preferences, opting to date men, women or non-binary people. The Sparked app will also ask users if they are open to dating transgender people.

Developed by Facebook's NPE Team, Sparked is currently being tested by a small group in the US, explains The Verge. 

Note that this isn't Facebook's first dating product. The platform previously launched Facebook Dating, which rolled out in the US in 2019. ― ETX Studio