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 Europe.
The tech giant was planning to introduce a Tinder rival to European users before 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 that allows users to create a separate dating profile to their existing Facebook account.
The feature was launched in the US back in September last year and is also available in another 19 counties in Asia and the Americas.
However, Europeans will have to wait a while longer thanks to the decision of the DPC, which appears to have been concerned about late notice.
The DPC said it was first informed by Facebook about its intentions on February 3, just 10 days before an intended roll-out on Thursday.
Facebook jumped into the dating game with Facebook Dating last year, which allows users to connect with people in and outside of their friend network.
DPC 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.
‘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, 13 February,’ the regulator said in a statement last night.
‘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.
In response, the social network decided it was best to put the brakes on its move into playing matchmaker in Europe.
Facebook says the DPIA was completed ahead of the proposed launch and shared with the regulator when it was requested.
WHERE IS FACEBOOK DATING AVAILABLE?
In addition to the US, Facebook Dating is currently available in 19 other countries:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
It’s now unknown when it will be available in Europe.
‘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.’
Facebook Dating was first tested in Colombia in September 2018 before expanding to other locations including the US a year later.
The feature makes use of Facebook’s wealth of user data, including likes, events and groups, to connect both Facebook and Instagram users looking for love.
Any Facebook user can choose to opt-in to the service if they are 18 years of age or older.
Secret Crush (pictured above) gives users the option to connect with their direct friends. If both users mutually add one another to the list, they will be notified.
Unlike Tinder, however, Facebook Dating doesn’t require users to mutually ‘match’ before being able to connect.
Users can browse profiles via a familiar card-style cue and interact with the ones that interest them.
Facebook says users can interact with profiles in two ways: by liking a profile to let someone know that they’re interested or by commenting directly on a picture.
A feature of the service known as ‘secret crush’ also matches up two Facebook users who are already friends.
Dating hopefuls can add up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers to a list, and if both of the users add each other to the list, it will notify them.