Facebook Ireland Holds Up Dating Feature Over Regulator GDPR Compliance Concerns

Facebook, Ireland, Europe, dating, in-app, GDPR, Irish Data Protection Commission, IDPC

Facebook Ireland put its planned dating feature on hold following a raid by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) on Wednesday (Feb. 12), according to reports.

The DPC — which acts as the regulator for all of Europe — searched the social media giant’s offices in Dublin. Facebook was allegedly unable to provide the agency with the correct paperwork in time to launch its dating feature on Thursday (Feb. 13). Privacy regulators raised concerns that the new feature wasn’t compliant with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The visit marked the first time that the DPC conducted a raid of a Big Tech firm under the EU’s GDPR, which governs how companies can use and share data. Facebook’s in-app dating feature was supposed to launch to all European users the day before Valentine’s Day. 

“Facebook Ireland informed us last night that [it has] postponed the rollout of this feature,” said Graham Doyle, deputy commissioner of the DPC.

The DPC said it was first told about the proposed dating feature on Feb. 3.

“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, Feb. 13. Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us on Feb. 3 in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment, or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland,” the DPC said in a statement.

Facebook’s dating feature was introduced in the U.S. in September. Its website indicates that the service is available in 20 countries.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Telegraph that it was “really important” that the dating app rollout be handled right. “We are taking a bit more time to make sure the product is ready for the European market,” they said.

Facebook added that an impact assessment was filed and shared with the Irish commissioner ahead of the proposed launch.

In November, U.S. users of the Facebook dating feature were given the option to add their Facebook or Instagram Stories to their dating profiles.