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New Dating Site Matches Singles By Facebook "Likes"

It's called Canoodle and finds dates for you based on "Likes" you have in common.

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One of the most nerve-racking aspects of online dating is writing a profile — you're so consumed with anxiety and the need to be witty that it can be hard to even remember "five things you can't live without." The new dating site Canoodle hopes to ease the burden by matching people up according to things they've "liked" on Facebook.

"You've got your icebreakers there right away," says Sean Wood, communications director of Cupid, the U.K.-based online-dating company that launched Canoodle on Thursday. "Without having written anything about yourself, you've told a lot." Canoodle is still in beta, but Cupid has 60 million users across the U.S., U.K., Western Europe, and Australia, and some are already using the new service.

When users log in through Facebook, Canoodle looks at what they've liked and helps them find people who like the same things. Wood notes that searching for people who share your interests isn't especially easy on Facebook, and says Canoodle solves that problem, helping users meet like-minded dates or just potential friends.

Of course, not everyone's Facebook likes accurately describe their personality — if you're an indiscriminate liker, or a parsimonious one, Canoodle may not be for you. And if you're a pushover, someone who just likes the things your friends aggressively suggest that you like, then Canoodle may get a more accurate picture of your friends than of you. The site does ask users to fill out a more traditional written profile as well, perhaps to get around these issues.

The site also lets users search by geographical vicinity — and with its mobile apps coming soon, likely in December, it will become one of several location-based services hoping to replicate the success of gay men's dating app Grindr. But bringing location-based dating to straight users — especially women — has been a tough sell, perhaps because women are leery of meeting men they don't know who just happen to be in the neighborhood.

Wood says Canoodle circumvents this problem by providing ways to get to know each other before meeting up, by comparing interests and messaging each other via the website or smartphone app. "Grindr is more of an instant thing: 'Who's going to meet me tonight?' Ours isn't like that. You can build up a rapport with someone, talk about your interests."

Canoodle also lets users pick a pseudonymous username — even if they connect through their Facebook accounts, the real names attached to those accounts are obscured until they're ready to share them.

Focusing on dating rather than hooking up may make the locational aspect of Canoodle more palatable to some. But the service is entering an increasingly crowded field. At least three Facebook-based dating services have launched this year. One of these, AreYouInterested, also lets users compare interests.

None of these has yet achieved the dominance of OkCupid or Match. But using a giant existing social network rather than making daters create new profiles continues to make intuitive sense. Wood says people spend so much time on Facebook now that getting them to leave it, even for dating, is a challenge: "When you try to distract people from what they're doing at any time in life, it's difficult to do. But if it's an integral part of what they're doing, it all stitches together nicely." It's not clear if using "likes" will be what stitches Facebook and dating together, but whoever does that successfully stands to make a lot of money.