Facebook wants to help you find a mentor. The social network said Thursday it’s launching tools for Facebook Groups, which has 200 million members, that aim to connect people one-on-one.
That means the administrators of some Facebook groups can create programs to pair up mentors and mentees. The two people then go through a step-by-step digital guide to get to know each other. They can share or comment on posts within the guide or they can talk through Messenger, Facebook’s chat app.
For now, the programs are aimed mainly at parenting, professional and personal development. For example, Facebook said one group, called the Aviation Center Mentorship, connected a Delta airline pilot with a young aviation student. The pilot gave him career advice as he went through his training.
Facebook first announced its mentorship tools last November in a small test program focused on connecting people working on education and crisis recovery issues. For that pilot program, Facebook worked with nonprofits to pair up people.
Now the company is bringing the features more widely to Facebook Groups and handing over the power to group administrators to facilitate matches.
The company has been testing the feature with “tens of thousands” of Facebook Groups over the last few weeks and “thousands” of people have been paired, Gabriel Cohen, Facebook’s product manager for Mentorship, said in an interview.
Facebook is expanding the tools at a time when the social network is getting intense criticism for some of its negative impact, spreading fake news, failing to stop election interference by the Russians and not doing enough to protect its 2 billion users from data misuse.
Of course, Facebook will have to prevent abuse of its tools. Both mentors and mentees must be over the age of 18. Cohen says they can block each other at any time or report issues to the group administrator and Facebook. All of the interactions between mentor and mentee happen online; if the two choose to meet in person, they can arrange that on their own.
“We understand connecting people one-on-one is sensitive,” Cohen said. “We don’t explicitly encourage or discourage people from meeting up in person. If they do, that’s a decision they make as adults.”
This isn’t the only attempt Facebook has tried to connect people one-on-one. In May, the social network introduced new dating features during its annual F8 developer conference. Last week, it was reported that the company had recently started testing the product internally.