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Hours from Valentine's Day, Helen Dixon says no to Facebook's European dating service rollout

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Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

Facebook has been forced into an embarrassing postponement of its new dating service all across Europe 36 hours before Valentine’s Day after Ireland’s Data Protection Commission stepped in.

The regulatory body, which oversees Facebook’s operation across the EU, sent agents to the social media giant’s offices in Dublin because Facebook had not informed the regulatory body of the launch.

The move leaves the social media body red-faced, even though Independent.ie understands that Facebook will proceed with the European dating launch in future and that the product has been “postponed” rather than “cancelled”.

A spokesman for DPC Helen Dixon said that Facebook only informed it on February 3rd that the dating launch was occurring on February 13th.

“We were very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature,” he said. “Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information or documentation was provided to us on the third of February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland.

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

Yesterday, Facebook informed journalists and the DPC that they were postponing the launch.

“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,” said a Facebook Ireland spokesman. “We have worked carefully to create strong privacy safeguards and have shared this information with the [Irish] DPC ahead of the European roll out.”

The DPC is now reviewing documentation associated with the proposed dating service.

Online Editors