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Will Facebook’s Dating Feature Just Reinforce Compulsory Heterosexuality?

Social media behemoth Facebook announced Tuesday that it will challenge dating apps like Tinder by getting into the dating game.

While speaking to developers at the F8 developers conference, The Verge reports, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the social media platform, which has listed a user’s relationship status since its inception in 2004, would now help users find a significant other.

But what if someone wants significant others?

During his presentation, Zuckerberg indicated that the feature would be available to users listed as “single,” which prompted questions fromsome of the platform’s polyamorous and nonmonogamous users.

Facebook later walked back that language and said that it would not restrict people based on their current relationship status. However, there is still no indication that Facebook would become a more welcoming place for polyamorous users.

One November 2017 Mashable article, “I’m polyamorous, and Facebook doesn’t think my sexuality exists,” plumbed this issue’s depths.

“Yes, you can state that you’re in an Open Relationship, but I am not,” author Monica Chin wrote. “I am as seriously and exclusively committed to two boyfriends as I would be to one. You can state that ‘It’s Complicated,’ but in this case, and in many, many polyamorous relationships, it is not complicated. I love him, and I love him, both of them, more than anyone else.”

Since the article’s publication seven months ago, nothing has changed on the digital platform. Users can only list one other Facebook user as their significant other and there is no option that says “In a polyamorous/non-monogamous relationship.”

Given that Facebook still refuses to acknowledge polyamory and nonmonogamy as valid, why should people who identify with either term feel confidence in the platform to include them in its latest dating rollout?

Aside from the general feeling that nonmonogamous and polyamorous people are not exactly high up on Facebook’s list of priorities, Zuckerberg’s comments regarding the upcoming dating service belie a sex-negative, heterosexual viewpoint on dating in general.

“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationshipsnot just for hookups,” Zuckerberg said. (Note:The Verge did say that sentence was a joke.)

Twitter user Molly Wood said Zuckerberg’s words reinforced Facebook’s “moralistic” view of the world.

Concerns about whether or not Facebook can cater to people outside the heterosexual matrix are not exactly unfounded. Though the social media giant soaked its page in rainbows for 2017’s LGBTQ Pride month, trans people have still encountered issues using the platform with their preferred names.

There’s no expectation that everyone at Facebook HQ crack open The Ethical Slut (but, it is a great read!) but a dating service that excludes people’s dating preferences seems, well, antithetical to people finding their version of bliss.

INTO reached out to Facebook for comment and will update if we hear back.

Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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