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Facebook postpones UK launch of dating service

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter
·2-min read

Love is not in the air on Facebook for the time being, after the social network decided to postpone the launch of its dating service in the UK.

The tech giant was planning to introduce a Tinder rival to users across Europe ahead of Valentine’s Day but ran into issues with its lead EU regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC).

Facebook Dating is an opt-in feature which allows users to create a separate dating profile to their existing Facebook account, with the site then offering recommendations based on preferences, things in common with other users of the tool, and any mutual friends.

The service was first tested in Colombia in September 2018 before expanding to other locations including the US a year later.

The watchdog appears to have been concerned about late notice, saying Facebook first informed them about its intentions on February 3, just 10 days before an intended roll-out on February 13.

It claims no relevant information or documentation was provided on February 3, such as a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), which firms are required to submit in accordance with GDPR.

“In order to expedite the procurement of the relevant documentation, authorised officers of the DPC conducted an inspection at Facebook Ireland Limited’s offices in Dublin on Monday last, 10 February and gathered documentation,” the regulator said.

Facebook Dating
Facebook Dating was first tested in Colombia in September 2018 (Facebook/PA)

In response, the social network decided it was best to put the brakes on its move into relationships.

Facebook says the DPIA was completed ahead of the proposed launch and shared with the regulator when it was requested.

“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 spokeswoman said.

“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.”