Facebook dating app controversy disrupts Zuckerberg’s upcoming trip to woo Europeans | VentureBeat
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(Original link: venturebeat.com)

Chris O'Brien @obrien February 13, 2020 5:30 AM Dozens of cardboard cutouts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are seen during an Avaaz.org protest outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2018. Image Credit: REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
The timing of Facebook’s controversy over its dating app probably couldn’t be much worse as CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares for a European trip that was aimed at rebuilding trust in the company.
Zuckerberg is scheduled to participate in the annual Munich Security Conferenc e that begins February 14 and attracts a broad range of global policy and lawmakers. After that, he’s scheduled a pitstop in Brussels to meet with European Union officials to discuss internet regulations, according to Business Insider .
Facebook’s trust level has hit rock bottom with many European leaders who have targeted Facebook for criticism over issues like fake news, disinformation, privacy issues, and taxes.
Many of those leaders felt misled by Facebook’s promises following its WhatsApp acquisition that data would not be shared between the two platforms. In 2017, the EU fined Facebook $122 million for violating those agreements.
Last fall, that distrust manifested itself again with the s harp reaction against Facebook’s proposal for its Libra cryptocurrency .
Earlier in 2019, the EU proposed new rules designed to curtail the power of online platforms, Facebook included. Now a new set of rules could be coming next week as the European Commission is set to unveil a set of data proposals on February 19. These proposals are expected to include possible regulations on technologies such as artificial intelligence and facial recognition.
No doubt Zuckerberg had hoped to restore some confidence in the company’s handling of data and its seriousness about taking into consideration Europeans’ concerns about protecting citizens. Instead, the latest dustup with Ireland seems to risk reinforcing those perceptions of Facebook’s recklessness.
Facebook had begun rolling out its new dating app last year . According to a statement posted February 12 by the Ireland Data Protection Commission , Facebook only officially contacted the agency on February 3 to inform it that the company would introduce the dating in Europe the following week.
“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, 13 February,” the DPC said in its statement. “Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us on 3 February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland.”
Because Facebook has its European headquarters in Dublin, the Irish agency acts as the data office for enforcing European regulations. As a result of Facebook’s ham-fisted approach, the DPC said it “authorized officers of the DPC conducted an inspection at Facebook Ireland Limited’s offices in Dublin on Monday last, 10 February and gathered documentation.”
Facebook subsequently agreed to delay release of the dating service. But in the meantime, the company seems to have committed yet another unforced error that is going to make earning trust of European regulators even more difficult. Most Read...