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Meta reportedly shutters video speed-dating service before it exits beta

Sparked, Facebook's experimental video chat dating service, never exited the testing phase.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook parent company Meta has reportedly shut down its experimental video speed-dating service, Sparked, after less than a year of testing. 

Those who used the service were informed via email that it would shut down on January 20, 2022, according to TechCrunch. The email read in part: "Like many good ideas, some take off and others, like Sparked, must come to an end."

CNET has reached out to Meta to clarify why the service was shut down.

We first learned that then-Facebook's experimental app arm, New Product Experimentation (NPE), was working on Sparked in April 2021. The original pitch: ditch DMs and swiping for a quick four-minute video chat with prospective dates, which could proceed to a longer 10-minute call if both parties gave the green light. After that, they'd be encouraged to share contact info to pursue their connection further.

Sparked was a separate effort from Facebook Dating, which was first introduced in 2018 as a way to use your existing connections and profile to turn friends into more-than-friends. It also had a starkly different flow from other dating apps like Tinder and Bumble that allowed users to view profiles and photos before swiping on messaging prospective dates. 

Instead, Sparked required users only to say what made them "a kind dater" and list their gender preference, The Verge noted in April. Facebook staff would apparently review these submissions and allow applicants to participate in limited tests, like one reported group of 47 people in the Chicago area entered into an online video chat speed-dating event. 

Facebook had pivoted Sparked to try out audio-only speed dates last Summer, per TechCrunch, but they've seemingly pulled the plug on the whole concept. This isn't too surprising given how many NPE projects have been shut down before exiting the testing stages, such as the Pinterest-like photo organizing app Hobbi and the Vine-like short video app Lasso.