Dating Apps Collect Extensive Personal Data, Raising Privacy Concerns

Dating apps collect extensive personal data, raising privacy concerns, with over 90% failing to meet basic security standards and many sharing user info for advertising, risking exploitation.

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Wojciech Zylm
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Dating Apps Collect Extensive Personal Data, Raising Privacy Concerns

Dating Apps Collect Extensive Personal Data, Raising Privacy Concerns

Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, and OKCupid are collecting extensive personal data from users seeking long-term relationships, raising significant privacy concerns. According to Mozilla's latest 'Privacy Not Included' research, over 90% of the 25 dating apps reviewed received a warning label for failing to meet basic privacy and security standards.

The study found that 80% of the dating apps analyzed may share or sell users' personal information for advertising purposes, including sensitive details like political affiliation, union memberships, and sexual preferences. Many apps also collect precise geolocation data, even when the app is not actively being used, which could be particularly harmful to women in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Over half of the apps reviewed had experienced data breaches, leaks, or hacks in the past three years, putting billions of users' data at risk of exploitation. "Dating apps have a responsibility to protect user data from exploitation, particularly given the critical role that personal information plays in forging meaningful connections in the digital age," said Mozilla researcher Jen Caltrider.

Why this matters: The privacy violations by dating apps have real-world consequences, as demonstrated by a 2022 investigation by The Wall Street Journal that exposed how user data from Grindr, Scruff, and OKCupid had been exploited, leading to the outing of individuals. As dating apps become increasingly popular, especially among younger generations, it is vital that companies prioritize user privacy and security.

Grindr, a leading dating app for the LGBTQ+ community, is currently facing a mass lawsuit from over 650 UK users who allege the company shared their highly sensitive personal data, including HIV status and test results, with third parties for commercial use without consent between 2018 and 2020. Grindr denies these claims and states it is committed to following data privacy regulations.

To protect their privacy, experts advise dating app users to read app reviews, limit the information they share, and use device settings to restrict app access to sensitive data. "The onus is on dating apps to safeguard users' data from exploitation," emphasized Caltrider, highlighting the urgent need for stronger privacy measures in the online dating industry.

Key Takeaways

  • Dating apps collect extensive personal data, raising privacy concerns.
  • Over 80% of apps may share/sell user data for advertising purposes.
  • Over 50% of apps had data breaches, leaks, or hacks in 3 years.
  • Grindr faces lawsuit for sharing users' sensitive data without consent.
  • Experts advise users to limit info shared and restrict app access to data.