Tinder and Other Dating Apps are Sharing Sensitive User Data with Advertisers

Brief

According to a Report following a Norwegian study, and as reported by NPR, Tinder and OkCupid (both owned by the Match Group), as well as Grindr and other dating apps, are sharing sensitive personal data with ad companies.

Sensitive Data such as:

  • Details about a user’s sexuality
  • Drug use
  • Political views
  • Religious views
  • A user’s exact location
  • And more…

According to the Norwegian report, this data sharing is at least partially in violation of the European GDPR.

It may also violate the California Consumer Privacy Act signed into law recently.

The Match Group, the company that owns OKCupid and Tinder, said in a statement that privacy was at the core of its business, saying it only shares information to third parties that comply with applicable laws.

Right, nothing to worry about then. Right?

Opinion

Of course, this should surprise no one. Why should dating services behave any differently than social media sites when it comes to user privacy and profiting from selling user data? I mean the question of why they should could be answered in one word: “Decency”. But why they would, as a publicly traded company in an economic system that values profit above all else… That one is more difficult to answer.

All we can do as consumers is to choose companies that act more ethically over their competitors wherever possible and feasible. Sometimes this means paying more to send a message, but if that is a deterrent to someone, then that someone no longer has the right to complain about unethical behavior of companies under capitalism.

Admittedly, I’m straying from the topic at hand a bit there, but that does also apply to dating apps. There’d just have to be any valid ethically acting competition to Tinder we could choose. For the time being my only advice is to not share any personal information you are not comfortable with third parties being privy to, and not actually spending any money on Tinder, OkCupid, et al. Or, if you are not comfortable with how they treat your privacy, just deleting your account even without an alternative lined up.

Whether there will be legal consequences in Europe and California, we can only wait and hope. I wouldn’t hold my breath for anything more than a small fine that is just taken as “cost of doing business” by these companies, as the fine is smaller than the profit made from illicit activities.

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