Facebook is playing Cupid in Pakistan.
Young people in the country are reportedly turning to private groups on the social media site to find romantic partners, following the government’s ban on Tinder and other popular dating apps.
Pakistan prohibited Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout, and SayHi last October, citing “immoral” and “indecent” content. Activists in the country protested the move, saying it was made simply to appease conservative factions and as a way to further discriminate against LGBT people.
(Homosexuality is against the law in Pakistan.)
The traditional alternative for people in the country is often an arranged marriage, but professional match services in Pakistan can charge as much as $500 to find a match. Facebook, though, offers a free alternative.
As many as 440,000 people have downloaded Twitter in Pakistan, along with another 300,000 each for Grindr, Tagged, and SayHi. The government has also issued warnings to TikTok and YouTube, telling them to block content that is “vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude and [contains] hate speech.”
The Facebook groups are restricted to select members and do not charge user fees. One, called Two Rings, has over 228,000 members and has resulted in at least 355 marriages. (Facebook’s dating app does not operate in Pakistan and is not an option for users.)
Almost two-thirds of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, so the ban on dating apps presented some significant roadblocks for finding love. And given Facebook’s global nature, it also lets them connect with people in other countries. One user met and eventually married someone from Australia.