News & Opinion | January 15, 2020 10:46 am

Dating Apps Like Tinder, Grindr and OKCupid Have Been Leaking Your Personal Data to Advertisers

Same privacy violations, different app.

dating apps
Dating apps exist on the internet, so obviously they are sharing your personal data.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Surprise, the internet is sharing your personal data again. Per the New York Times, a new report has revealed that popular dating apps like Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid have been sharing potentially sensitive user information with advertisers, because of they course they have.

The report, released Tuesday by the Norwegian Consumer Council, found that various dating apps may be sharing information such as user location, gender identity, sexual orientation and ethnicity, as well as answers to profile questions asking about sensitive topics like drug use.

Tinder and OKCupid, both owned by Match Group, have reportedly admitted to sharing “some users’ information with service providers and partners,” in their terms of service. Parties privy to such unspecified info may also include other Match brands, like fellow online dating platforms Match.com and PlentyOfFish, as well as legal authorities.

In a statement, Match Group said user data from Tinder and OKCupid “is never shared with any Match Group services for any commercial purposes. Tinder and OkCupid only share data in cases where individuals are reported for criminal activity and/or engaging in bad behavior.” The company added that “neither Tinder nor OkCupid nor any Match Group company uses sensitive personal information whatsoever for advertising purposes.”

Grindr, meanwhile, tells users that information like sexual preferences and HIV status will be kept under wraps, but other info like distance and location reportedly remain up for third-party consumption. There also appears to be something of an internet information sharing chain going on, with the Times reporting Grindr’s partners include companies like Twitter ad service MoPub, which shares user data with over 180 of its own partners, who may then pass that data on to other partners.

Grindr told the Times it had not received a copy of the report, but reminded users that it valued their privacy and had outlined privacy protections and data practices in the company’s privacy policy. Match, meanwhile, said it only shared specific user data with outside companies as necessary, while paying similar lip service to the company’s commitment to user privacy.

It’s a tale as old as time — or at least as old as Facebook. This time the culprit is dating apps, but it’s largely a case of same story, different platform. Sure, you could delete your dating apps, just like you could delete Facebook. But you probably won’t.

Update: An earlier version of this article mistakenly identified Grindr as a Match Group product. Grindr is not owned by Match Group.

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