Is Badoo a Social Network or a Dating Site?

We’re looking to cover emerging social networks here at Social Times, and one site that seems to have a loyal following but sometimes slips through the cracks is Badoo, the so-called “Facebook for Sex”.  The site has been called a dating site that masquerades as a social network, and it begs the question as to what constitutes a social network.

First off, there’s no doubt that the main focus of the site is dating.  When you’re first thrust into the world of Badoo, you’ll see a whole list of people of the opposite sex, matched with big buttons to chat/meet them now.  The thing is, it’s focused on asking them to chat, but you also have options to send them gifts and most importantly, comment on photos.  This is one of the key elements of any social network, and it’s where a lot of discussion happens on the site.

When you click on a user’s profile, you can see a full Facebook-style profile, although you can’t look at more than a picture or two unless you yourself have uploaded a series of photos — this is definitely a hallmark of a dating site.

Finally, there’s a ‘hot or not’ feature where you rate people’s photos and then comment.

Overall, while the network seems to get a bit of buzz every once in a while, it doesn’t look like something that has staying potential.  It looks like several users are inactive, and there have even been rumors that there are fake profiles on the site.  Certainly, to be a social network there needs to be more to the service, like groups and wall posts.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that in a study of 45 social networks, Badoo scored lowest in the entire study when it came to privacy.  Not a great place to store any personal information, it seems.

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