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The flirting on Facebook, it will not be for now

A Facebook official presents the Facebook Dating service on April 30, 2019, in San José (California, United States). (STEPHEN LAM / REUTERS)

Hard court for French singles, Spanish lovers and Italian seducers who eagerly awaited “Facebook Rencontres” (known abroad as “Facebook Dating”), the dating service of the social network giant. This application function is already present in around twenty countries, in Latin America, in Asia, and even in the United States. It was to be deployed in Europe on Thursday, February 13, but at the last moment the company postponed everything, without announcing a new date.

In question, a vagueness as to the management of personal data. Facebook had to attest that its service would be compatible with the GDPR, the European regulation for the protection of personal data, much more restrictive than American laws.

It is unclear exactly what has irritated the Irish authorities, to which Facebook must be held accountable since its European headquarters are in Dublin. But to comply with the famous GDPR, Facebook must for example use algorithms to profile its users only with their explicit agreement, it must be able to inform them in the event of hacking of their data, and allow them to request the deletion of data which are related to them.

However, Wednesday, February 12, Facebook had still not provided the requested documents to the Data Protection Commission (DPC), which happens to be the Irish gendarme of personal data.

It must be said that Facebook prepared the launch of its application without really consulting with the agency. The DPC did not learn until the beginning of the month that the planned opening date was that of Valentine's Day. The deadline was a bit short, she didn't like it and she wrote it in a rather dry press release. The Irish authorities also regret that no information or documentation has been transmitted by Facebook. At the beginning of the week, the agency So sent his agents to Facebook premises in Dublin to conduct an inspection and pick up some documents that she is still analyzing.

With “Facebook Rencontres”, the internet giant is entering a very competitive market. For the moment in Europe, like everywhere else, the undisputed leader is Tinder, with $ 1.2 billion in revenue last year, for a global market estimated at 2.2 billion.

But “Facebook Dating” has solid arguments. First, it backs onto the world's leading social network, which has two and a half billion active users. Users who can create a romantic profile in just a few seconds, thanks to the photos and information that the application collects on their existing profile.

“Facebook Rencontres” also plans to stand out from the superficial and addictive image of this kind of applications by offering “lasting relationships, not just one-night plans”. Facebook founder and current CEO Mark Zukerberg says new application already counts “one of the leading online dating services”. In September, the day of its launch in the United States, the Tinder share took the shock and lost more than 4% on the stock market.

The service is completely free, unlike its main competitors who have mostly chosen the freemium : a free service but with certain paid features. “Facebook Rencontres” is inspired by existing applications and makes some additions to them. But what especially interests the brand is to encourage users to reconnect with the sharing of content and private data.

Because after a series of scandals on his management of personal data, including that of Cambridge Analytica, a British company which had used the personal data of tens of millions of users without their knowledge to influence the presidential election of 2016, in favor of Donald Trump , the web giant is trying to restore its image to Internet users.

It has recently offered users the possibility of erasing all the data collected from external websites and used by Facebook to target its advertisements. He also announces for the coming months the creation of a kind of Supreme Court, composed of independent personalities and led by a human rights activist, who will have the last word in disputes concerning the deletion of problematic content.

A survey carried out last December in the United States revealed that only 23% of those questioned considered Facebook capable of protecting their personal data. Will the prospect of meeting great love blow up this reluctance? More and more of us are meeting our partner online: this is already the case for almost 30% of Americans.

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