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Facebook postpones Valentine's Day launch for dating app due to data regulator's concerns

The app was due to launch tomorrow, the day before Valentine’s Day.

FACEBOOK HAS POSTPONED its launch of a dating app across EU member states after Ireland’s Data Protection Commission raised concerns.

The app was due to launch tomorrow, the day before Valentine’s Day. 

The app, which launched in the US in September last year, matches people who have opted into the Facebook Dating feature based on “your preferences, interests and other things you do on Facebook”.

As the company explained during the launch of the feature in the US:

“Facebook Dating allows you to match with friends of friends and/or people not in your friend circle. Facebook Dating won’t match you with friends, unless you choose to use Secret Crush and you both add each other to your list.

“All of your Dating activity will stay in Facebook Dating. It won’t be shared to the rest of Facebook,” the statement said.

Facebook Ireland first contacted the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) about the EU roll-out of this dating feature last Monday, 3 February, according to a statement from the data protection regulator.

The DPC said that it was “very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature”, considering that they had intended to roll it out 10 days after that.

Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/ documentation was provided to us on 3 February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland.

On Monday, 10 February, DPC officers conducted an inspection at Facebook Ireland’s offices in Dublin, and gathered documentation. This was done “in order to expedite the procurement of the relevant documentation,” according to the DPC.

Last night, Facebook Ireland informed the DPC that they have postponed the roll-out of its dating feature.

A Facebook spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “It’s really important that we get the launch of Facebook Dating right so we are taking a bit more time to make sure the product is ready for the European market.

“We worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards, and to complete the data processing impact assessment ahead of the proposed launch in Europe, which we shared with the Irish Data Protection Commission when it was requested.”

Facebook has a message on how people’s data is being used in the dating feature: “We’re committed to protecting people’s privacy within Facebook Dating so that we can create a place where people feel comfortable looking for a date and starting meaningful relationships.”

It also clarifies that a person’s “dating activity, such as people you like or pass on, won’t be shared with anyone outside Dating”.

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