Social media giant Facebook has begun testing its dating app with its employees.

The company confirmed it is internally testing Facebook Date but would not disclose further details.

News of a rival service to Tinder sent shares of Match Group, which owns dating apps OKCupid and Tinder, plunging 17 per cent.

Details of Facebook's dating app emerged on Twitter with user Jane Manchun Wong showing screenshots of the sign-up process, including the option to select gender, locations and a preference of five genders: "trans woman", "woman", "trans man", "man" and "non-binary people".

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The Herald has approached Facebook for comment.

Employees in the American headquarters in Mountain View, California who have opted in for the company's internal testing programme were sent links to sign up last week.

Workers were asked to log into the new app and share "dummy" information to help spot glitches and refine its design before it is launched, a process Facebook refers to as "dogfooding".

Anyone hoping to find romance with a colleague will be out of luck, as they were strictly warned "the purpose for this dogfooding is to test the end-to-end product experience for bugs and confusing user interface. This is not meant for dating your coworkers".

Facebook users attending groups or events will be able to message other participants who have dating switched on.

They will be able to talk in private conversations but sending photos is banned. A number of dating apps have suffered from a phenomenon where young women reported a torrent of unsolicited, graphic and sexual pictures after matching with strangers.

Shares in the company that owns Tinder dropped shortly after the Facebook announced testing had started. Photo/123RF.
Shares in the company that owns Tinder dropped shortly after the Facebook announced testing had started. Photo/123RF.

Only public information will be shared among matches to protect privacy.

Zuckerberg announced plans to move into the lucrative matchmaking market earlier this year, amid concerns that many were growing tired of the social network as user figures dwindled.

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In May he promised that the service would focus on "building long-term relationships around dating. It's not just about hook-ups."

Dating apps Hinge and Bumble already ask users to log into their Facebook accounts so it can spot mutual friends and weed out immediate friends to avoid embarrassing matches with a family member or close friend.

Dating apps and the costs that are associated with them, often referred to as the Tinder economy, is worth $22.5 billion, according to the most recent study from Lloyds TSB.

- additional reporting The Telegraph.