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The service, which Facebook had considered offering for over a decade and will launch soon, could help rebuild its popularity among younger consumers and make people visit the site more often, two key challenges for the business. Facebook shares rose 1. Facebook users have been able to reveal their relationship status on the network since it first went live in February Zuckerberg said Facebook was building the dating service with an emphasis on privacy, a sensitive subject for people who use dating websites and for Facebook as the company reels from a scandal over its handling of personal information.

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A dating service could increase the time people spend on Facebook and be a "big problem" for competitors such as Match Group Inc, said James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities. Match, the owner of popular mobile dating app Tinder and OkCupid, calls itself the "global leader in dating" on its website. Facebook said in January that at the end of time spent by users had fallen by about 50 million hours a day, after changes designed to reduce passive video watching and stem the spread of sensationalism. Match Group Inc shares closed down more than 22 percent. IAC, Match Group's parent company, dropped more than 17 percent.

A prototype displayed on screens at the F8 conference showed a heart shape at the top-right corner of the Facebook app.

Pressing on it will take people to their dating profile if they have set one up. Potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common and mutual friends, Facebook said in a statement.

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The prototype was built around local, in-person events, allowing people to browse other attendees and send them messages. It did not appear to have a feature to "swipe" left or right on potential matches to signal interest, as Tinder and other established services have.

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But there were two buttons for "pass" and "interested. The optional feature will be for finding long-term relationships, "not just hook-ups," Zuckerberg said.

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It will be launched soon, he added, without giving a specific date. More details will be revealed over the next few months, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said in a separate presentation. Here you can again hook up with other single South Africans, post photos and search for potential dates.

Email a match via the anonymous email address through the site and become "a fan" of attractive potential dates. Although South Africans are the main daters here, there are also international daters welcomed on the site. College students who have trouble connecting in South Africa can use a site like DateCollege. Here students from all over South Africa can connect easily because their profiles list their schools or cities.

Featuring a younger crowd with similar experiences, this is a great way for shy South African students to meet.

About Free Online Dating Services in South Africa | Dating Tips

All the sites feature the same basic templates for online daters. All sites require that daters fill out a profile, including photos, an interest survey and an essay portion where you can talk about what you are looking for in a date. Many sites also have instant message capacities, forums and "winks" or "hellos" that you can send to prospective dates. When meeting local South African daters, arrange your first meeting in a public place and take your own transportation.

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Although you may feel that you have gotten to know your online friend well via emails and chats, taking that next step should be done in a safe manner. Take online dating profiles with a grain of salt. Some daters post old photos or exaggerate their incomes or careers, so get to know them well before meeting or making any commitment.

Meet Singles in your Area! Function Free online dating services in South Africa cater to the cultural, economic and regional needs and desires of South African residents. Features All the sites feature the same basic templates for online daters. Considerations When meeting local South African daters, arrange your first meeting in a public place and take your own transportation.