Facebook’s Dating Service launched In Europe
Facebook’s Dating service has been launched in Europe’s 32 countries after a long delay from its planned Valentine’s Day debut. The delay was caused by the data protection privacy concerns of local regulators. The new service is Facebook’s competition to Tinder, Bumble, Badoo, OkCupid, and other dating apps.
Facebook Dating is an opt-in service that allows Facebook users find romantic partners, though the feature does not match individuals with their existing friends.
The dating service of Facebook will offer the same features in Europe as it does in the US, using the existing profile a user has created on Facebook to find potential matches. Facebook tailors these matches with the user’s preferences and Facebook activity.
The rollout took place amid social-distancing rules and lockdowns across Europe, implemented to control the spread of Covid-19. The dating service was launched in the US last year after initially being announced in 2018.
The company said, “We are launching the Facebook Dating in Europe to help users get good matches through their common behavior on the social media platform.”
Facebook Dating and its feature Virtual Dates section, allows matches to video chat with each other. While the service still only appears as a tab in Facebook’s mobile app, it’s integrated with the rest of the products of the company. The users’ profile will also pull stories and photos from the company’s other platforms Instagram. Users can initiate Messenger video calls from chats, and the splashy Secret Crush feature searches both your Instagram followers and Facebook friends for potential matches.
The close connection Facebook Dating has raised concerns in the past. Facebook decided to push back the service’s launch after regulators in Ireland took issue with the timing of the planned launch.
The planned February launch was delayed when the Irish Data Protection Commission intervened; saying that the company only gave a 10-day notice of its roll-out.
It is mandatory for the launch of such products to undergo a review called a Data Processing Impact Assessment (DPIA) under the European Union’s GDPR protections, and Facebook likely informed the regulators too late of its launch, raising concerns over data privacy compliance.
Deputy Commissioner and Head of Corporate Affairs, Media and Communications with Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), Graham Doyle said, “DPC became aware of Facebook’s plans to launch Facebook Dating a number of days prior to its planned launch in February this year. Over the action taken by the DPC Facebook gave detailed clarifications on the processing of personal data in regards to the Dating feature. Facebook has also provided details of the set of changes that they have made to the product. We will continue to monitor the product as it launches across the EU this week. Any earlier engagement on such projects is imperative.”
However, the company claims that privacy is preserved, with personal matching tactics entirely optional and romantic activity kept out of a user’s public timeline by default.
Facebook Dating is now offered in over 50 countries, like Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.