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Facebook delays the launch of its dating app in Europe over privacy concerns

Facebook Dating, which launched last September in the US, has hit a major snag in Europe. 

On Wednesday, the Data Protection Commission (DPC), an independent consumer protection agency, announced it was “very concerned” about Facebook’s desire to expedite the feature across the European Union, leading the social media giant to stall its rollout indefinitely. 

The DPC statement read: “We were very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature, considering that it was their intention to roll it out tomorrow [February 13th]. Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us […] in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland.”

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted in 2018 to act as the EU’s technology watchdog, making it “world’s toughest rules to protect people’s online data.”

According to the statement, DPC officials went to Facebook’s Dublin office, where it’s EU headquarters are located, on Monday to gather “relevant documentation” about the dating feature. 

What documentation was recovered, and whether the agency found evidence suggesting privacy concerns, is still unknown, but the move ultimately forced the company to postpone its launch. 

“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,” a Facebook spokesperson told Digital Trends in a statement. “We worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards, and complete the data processing impact assessment ahead of the proposed launch in Europe, which we shared with the IDPC when it was requested.”

The way Facebook Dating works, is that it suggests people based on your interests and preferences — information typically already found on an average user’s profile. Then, to let someone know you’re interested, users can either comment on their profile or use the “Like” button. It also lets you link photos from your Instagram account and share Instagram Stories to the app. 

This delay will further stall Facebook’s aim to keep millennials and other younger users from leaving the platform, as the dating feature has been lauded as a ploy to curb more potential loss — even though the online dating space is already crowded and less than ideal

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Meira Gebel
Meira Gebel is a freelance reporter based in Portland. She writes about tech, social media, and internet culture for Digital…
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