Facebook is testing a video speed-dating app called Sparked. The app, which requires a Facebook profile to create an account, is developed by the company’s NPE Team, Facebook’s in-house group that works on experimental apps.
You can view the Sparked webpage here, where it describes the app as “video dating with kind people.” It also promises no public profiles, no swiping, no DMs, and that it’s free to use. The app will seemingly cycle people through speed video dates that last four minutes. It’s unclear how many video dates a person will go on per event, but the app says that if “you both have a great time” daters will then be scheduled for a 10-minute second date. After that point, Sparked suggests they can exchange contact information and stay in touch through Instagram, iMessage, or email.
The Verge attempted to set up a profile and was put on a waitlist, but the user sign-up flow suggests kindness is a key theme for the app. When signing up, users have to type out what makes them a kind dater. The app says these responses will be “reviewed by a human at Sparked” before people can go on speed dates. Users also have to choose whether they want to date men, women, or nonbinary people, and then are asked if they are open to dating trans people. The Verge viewed a landing page for a dating event in Chicago that says 47 people have signed up to attend. What’s unclear is how daters connect to the event, like whether they have to log into Sparked through the web, or if they’ll eventually be prompted to download an app. No app is live in the App Store or Google Play. (We went through this sign-up process just from a browser.)
You can view screenshots of the sign-up process below. In an emailed statement to The Verge, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the existence of the app and called it an “early experiment” They also said it’s only in a “small beta test” right now.
Sparked would be the second dating product from Facebook. Facebook Dating, which operates out of the main Facebook app, launched in the US in 2019 and has since rolled out to various countries, including, most recently, the UK. It operates similarly to most dating apps in that people can view a public profile of a potential match and then send a like to possibly receive one back and start a conversation. The NPE Team has launched many apps, none of which have particularly taken off, so it’s unclear how committed Facebook will be to Sparked.
Video dating only recently became a popular idea, mostly spurred by the pandemic and people staying at home and limiting their in-person interactions. The League first launched a video speed-dating feature in 2019, and since then, Hinge and Tinder have also launched the ability for people to have video chats with matches. (Bumble launched its video chat function in 2019, as well.) Sparked would mirror The League’s approach and seems to suggest that the company is experimenting with new ways to get people to date as they get sick of swiping and filtering through hundreds of profiles.