Dating apps like Grindr, OkCupid, and Tinder might be violating privacy laws by spreading user information to third-party companies. Ah, to look for the love in the hellish, constantly surveilled mall that is the Internet!
The New York Times reports on a new study from the Norwegian Consumer Council which found that Grindr was “tagging individuals with their sexual orientation” and sent user locations to multiple companies. OkCupid sent a person’s ethnicity and answers to specific questions to a marketing firm, while Tinder sent a user’s gender and the preferred gender of the people they wanted to date to two marketing firms.
While it’s not surprising that a company is tracking and selling every little bit of your personal data, the study found that there’s little delineation in the actual data in terms of what’s less invasive information and what’s deeply intimate. You might be fine with your preferences for cheeseburgers over hotdogs being sold to some third-party marketer, but are you cool with a dozen companies knowing your favorite sex position? Trick question: none of it is cool! Shoot me into space!
In response to the findings the owner of Tinder and OkCupid said that they “shared only specific user data deemed necessary for those services.” Grindr said they “valued users’ privacy,” though this isn’t the first time the app has been accused of grossly oversharing user information. In 2018 the app was found sharing the HIV status of its users with two other companies.