Bang With Friends, the controversial Facebook sex app has gotten its fair share of criticism and curious users. But do the app’s creators use their own tool? “I can say that one of us has successfully used the app,” said the product’s CEO, who prefers to go simply by “C,” and is one of three college-aged Californians who (still) wish to remain anonymous. “But I didn’t get the details of his encounter.”
The last time we spoke with the Bang With Friends boys, their Facebook sex app aimed at pairing potential sex partners had a humble 20,000 users. Three weeks later, the app has grown significantly, boasting north of 700,000 users. But with such lofty growth in a relatively short time, how many users actually find matches? So far, roughly 130,000 matches have been made, “about one in three pairs,” said C.
For the uninitiated, Bang With Friends is, according to C, the remedy for “broken” online dating sites. “The problem with online dating is that people will far too often hide behind a fake profile.… For a lot of men, their true intentions are that they’re just looking for a friends-with-benefits situation.” And women? “For some women, they’re good with that but for others they’re…not.” Not surprisingly, 70 percent of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.
“I think in general [the response] from the public and press has actually been pretty positive,” said C of the app that was called a “technological whorehouse” by Motherboard online.
“People are absolutely thrilled when they get a match,” he said. But according to C, getting matched with a bang buddy is just part of the equation. “Bang With Friends will not necessarily always be just about sex,” he said of the app, which features a partially nude woman lying exposed on a bed, with just a dress covering her chest and face. “Sex is an important part of our site but we are taking it to mean more than that in the future. We see this evolving as being used as a dating tool that everyone will want to use whether they’re uncovering friends or people who are just interested in—whatever activity they want. Our long-term vision is to help people strengthen their relationships in the offline world through more honest interactions,” C said.
But with such graphic imagery, and the words “fuck,” “bang” and “down for the night” (and not “down to date”) plastered on the app’s website, the team would likely need some serious rebranding to be considered anything more than a tech-friendly way to score some afternoon delight.
C spoke to this irony, the idea that an application called Bang With Friends could be possibly not about sex, saying, “While the copy on the site is very much geared towards the sexual side, in the future we’re going to supplement that as well so it appeals to a wider audience and more activities.”
And appealing to a wide enough audience was one of BWF’s original problems. Early critics of the app slammed the creators for only making it user-friendly for a heterosexual audience. But C assures that this problem has since been fixed. “You can filter by gender now and select whoever you want,” he said. But is BWF appealing to the gay community? “We don’t have that data readily available.”
The app’s creators did, however, change their contact email from “firstname.lastname@example.org” to simply “email@example.com” because as C said, “emails from more legitimate sources were being missed at the pimpin address.”
So while the app might be moving toward being more inclusive and possibly less crass, the founders’ latest additions to it speak to their original intention.
“We added a bangability score,” C said. “We give you a score based on all the data we have on the site—how many people view you, click you, how you compare to your friend network.” He continued, “It’s just a fun way to engage where you’re at, you can see if changing to a different picture helps any…we’ll be expanding this in the future.”
But what was the reasoning behind the “doggy-style” sex icon that pops up as the app’s primary image? “It looks sensual, it’s non-threatening for a lot of us because it’s very obvious what they’re doing, but at the same time—and it’s not doggy style, it’s wheelbarrow. She has her legs up. It’s just a technicality.”