Sign up for our newsletter - Navigating the horizon of business technology​
Technology / Data

Five Relationship Tips for Facebook and the Irish Data Protection Commission

“Communication is an important part of any relationship” notes marriage counselling specialist RELATE.

With Facebook forced to delay the roll-out of its new dating service this week after a spat with Irish data protection officials over missing documents, it’s clear these two have communication issues.

Facebook has been in a fraught relationship with the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) for some time. Despite this having seen them hit the courts on several occasions, communication remains poor.

Couples therapy may be needed.

White papers from our partners

Computer Business Review turned to RELATE’s “Five Communication Tips to Try with your Partner” to help the partners out.

1: Don’t Sweep Things Under the Carpet

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon

The DPC reacted furiously after being told of the planned dating application just 10 days ahead of its planned launch of February 13.

The friction was aggravated by Facebook’s failure to voluntarily submit a Data Protection Impact Assessment or discuss its “decision making processes”.

No one should sweep plans under the regulatory rug.  Some partners don’t like surprises…

2: Don’t Put Them on the Defensive 

“It’s so easy to react to a disagreement with your partner by telling them everything you think they’re doing wrong and making lots of accusations. But the problem with this is that it’s only likely to put them on the defensive” says RELATE.

Unfortunately, in this instance, the damage on this count was done.

Clearly  defensive of the rights of European citizens, the DPC said: “Facebook Ireland first contacted [us] in relation to its intention to roll-out a new Dating feature in the EU on Monday 3 February. We were very concerned that this was the first that we’d heard from Facebook Ireland about this new feature.”

It’s important to make a partner feel like they are part of your plans…

If you plan to deploy a dating app, perhaps let those who should know, know.

3: Pick a Place and Time

Credit, William Murphy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/

“Sometimes, it’s useful to plan to have a discussion at a specific time and place” says RELATE.

For the Irish data protection watchdog, that time and place were clear: in Facebook’s office, sharpish.

“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 DPC said.

Sometimes in a relationship, you just need to be really clear about your needs…

And if reading your partner’s private emails is in your pre-nuptial agreement, sometimes they just have to just take such intrusion on the chin.

4: Make Time to Talk and Listen

facebook record fine“No-one loves hearing something they disagree with. But in order to truly understand your partner’s perspective, you really have to pay attention and take it in” says RELATE.

Facebook appears to have taken this guidance on board.

A company spokesman told Computer Business Review: “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.

They added, sounding conciliatory: “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.”

5: Practice

“Our final tip is to remember that communication is a skill and it takes practice to get good at it” says RELATE.

The two look set to have plenty of that, whether they are discussing Privacy Shield, dating applications or more.

But this is not a monogamous relationship: the Irish data watchdog is also onto another dating app — early this month announcing an investigation into Tinder.

“The identified issues pertain to [Tinder’s] ongoing processing of users’ personal data with regard to its processing activities in relation to the Tinder platform, the transparency surrounding the ongoing processing, and the company’s compliance with its obligations with regard to data subject right’s requests,” the DPC stated.

“Finding a Romantic Partner is Deeply Personal”

Facebook, meanwhile, thinks the app is safe and robust.

Having launched it in September in the US, it says: “Finding a romantic partner is deeply personal, which is why we built Dating to be safe, inclusive and opt-in. Safety, security and privacy are at the forefront of this product.

“We worked with experts in these areas to build [in] protections from the start, including the ability to report and block anyone; prohibiting people from sending photos, links, payments or videos, and by providing easy access to safety tips.”

The DPC however, has gone beyond the dating stage.

These two are in it for the long haul.

See Also:  Does Your Website Have a Facebook “Like” Button? Top EU Court Says You’re Responsible for FB’s Personal Data Processing


This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.