Facebook dating service halted

Facebook postpones launch of dating service amidst data protection investigation

Facebook has delayed the launch of its new dating service in Europe following the opening of a data protection investigation into the new feature by the Data Protection Commission (DPC). 

The Irish Data Protection Commission released a statement on February 12th which explained that Facebook had intended to release the feature the following day (February 13th). The DPC was “very concerned” that they had first heard from the social media giant a mere ten days before the proposed launch date.

The data protection watchdog explained that Facebook had failed to provide any of the information and documentation necessary to carry out Data Protection Impact Assessments. In an effort to “expedite the procurement of the relevant documentation” the DPC conducted an on-site investigation of the Facebook offices in Dublin on Monday the 10th of February. Following this on-site inspection, Facebook contacted the commission to explain that they had “postponed the roll-out” of the dating service. All of this was in spite of the fact that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed at its launch in 2018 at the F8 Developer Conference that the service was built with “privacy in mind“.

During the service’s US launch in September, Facebook announced its intention to launch the dating service in Europe in time for Valentine’s Day. This investigation has put a plug in Facebook’s launch plan. A spokesperson for the company said, “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.”

Since the service’s US release, Facebook Dating has largely failed to make an impact on the dating industry. Former Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg explained in an interview with the Observer that “Facebook has launched the service in a couple of markets, but we haven’t seen any real impact on us yet.” While Match Group and their sites OkCupid, Tinder, and Match.com have seen no threat from Facebook’s service, Zuckerberg aims to capture a market of users searching for “meaningful relationships”.

This is far from the first time that Facebook has been investigated regarding data and privacy rights. User data was also found to be available for purchase on the dark web, prompting an investigation by the DPC. Facebook was ordered to pay a $5 Billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission in July of 2019 for violating consumers’ privacy rights. This was by far the biggest ever levied against a company by the American commission. At the time Zuckerberg expressed his intent to “make structural changed to how we build products and run this company“. Facebook was subsequently investigated by the Irish DPC for GDPR violations. All of these investigations are ongoing.

Via: Silicon Republic

Image credit: Pestoverde

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