When Facebook announced it will be diving into the online dating business, it seemed like an untimely move for a company facing criticism for not respecting users' privacy. But according to data collected by user research firm Alpha, the majority of Facebook users who already use a paid or free dating app would be interested in an online dating service from the company.

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Data: Alpha; Note: Survey conducted May 22, 2018 amongst 606 people who had used Facebook in the past 3 months and a dating app in the past 12; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: Given Facebook’s beginnings — as an online student directory after a “Hot or Not” variant was shut down by Harvard — it’s not a surprise the social network giant wants to help users pair up.

The data:

  • Facebook users who use a paid dating app: 43% said they’d be “extremely interested” (or a rating of 5) in a Facebook dating service, and 32% said they’d be interested (or a rating of 4).
  • Facebook users who use a free dating app: 31% said they’d be “extremely interested” (or a rating of 5) in a Facebook dating service, and 28% said they’d be interested (or a rating of 4).

Survey respondents, who were shown a mockup of the Facebook dating feature, also said that they expect Facebook to be roughly as good (35%), somewhat better (28%) and better (21%) than other apps at helping them find a romantic match.

  • Most also said they were likely to let Facebook use its facial recognition tech to help them avoid bots and fraudsters on the dating service.

But, but, but: There's often a gap between what people say they would use (and pay for) and their actual behavior, so this survey's findings are theoretical.

Methodology: Alpha collected data from 606 people in the U.S. on May 22 who have used Facebook in the past 3 months and a dating app in the past 12 months.

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