Facebook's video speed-dating service is shutting down January 20th

Along with Sparked, collaborative music-making app Collab is closing up shop.

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Facebook app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team is often quick to abandon apps that don’t find traction, and a video speed-dating service it has tested over the last nine months is next for the chopping block. The company told Sparked users the experiment will shut down on January 20th.

“We started building Sparked in late 2020 to help people find love through an experience rooted in kindness. Since then, thanks to regular input and feedback from you, we improved where we could, learned a ton, and made connections between people,” Facebook wrote in the email, which TechCrunch obtained. “Like many good ideas, some take off and others, like Sparked, must come to an end.”

Users will be able to download their data before January 20th. After that date, Facebook will wipe their Sparked accounts.

Sparked was a blend of Chatroulette, the video chats other dating apps have introduced over the last few years and a speed dating event. At a predetermined time, users from a certain area or demographic would take part in dating events (there were a few global events too). They'd have four minutes to chat with a potential match, and if they both wanted to spend more time with each other, they could set up a second, 10-minute date and/or exchange contact details.

Although users needed a Facebook account to use Sparked, the service was distinct from both Facebook and Facebook Dating. It had no public profiles, messaging or matching features, like swiping on Tinder.

Facebook initially described Sparked as a small beta test to learn about video dating, so it might not truly have intended for the service to blow up in popularity. Both Sparked and Facebook Dating added audio chat features last year.

Sparked is joining a long list of NPE projects that Facebook has shut down, including Pinterest-style app for hobbyists Hobbi, TikTok clone Lasso and selfie app MSQRD. A few NPE apps remain on the App Store in the US: TikTok-esque app for rappers called BARS, an app for couples called Tuned and collaborative music video app Collab. Facebook said this week that Collab is also closing down on March 12th.

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