Do you know what personal data dating apps collect about you? (Hint: It’s a lot!)

Or Baram
4
min read

Valentine’s day 2022 is upon us, which for many means that they are out on dating apps looking for a romantic date.  But before you run out to look for ‘the one,’ <hl>you might want to consider what sensitive personal information dating apps and websites collect about you to decide if you’re ready for such a commitment.<hl>

privacy risks of dating apps

Online dating, at its core, is a data-driven business with next-gen user tracking capabilities. In hopes of finding ‘the one,’ users voluntarily share the most sensitive information about themselves. In turn, these apps and websites use this information to calculate which matches they suggest and the ads they show as you go.

Don’t fall head over heels just yet.

According to our data, about 33% of all Mine users had at least one dating app in their digital footprint, with the most popular one being Tinder.

At their core, dating apps need more sensitive data than just your regular website or app. To open an account or profile, the user must provide basic information, including his email address, full name, age, gender, sex, and sexual orientation. Since you enter this wishing to get the most suitable matches, <hl>you are encouraged to share as much information as possible about yourself.<hl> All of which are being collected and stored - this can include sent photos and videos, chats, swiping history, behavioral data, location, physical address, religious belief, political views, ethnicity, and more.

Moreover, when you link your dating profile with any of your social media profiles, you basically open the door for them to collect and interchange very sensitive data with your social apps. This could include your hobbies and interests, behavioral and identity data, sexual preferences, personal chats, etc.

For your eyes only, or is it?

Our daily lives are made more accessible by smartphones, which offer a variety of valuable features, including GPS capabilities, internet access, messaging, etc. Have you ever considered what sort of security threat the screenshot feature poses?

<hl>It's easy for daters to take screenshots of other profiles and private chats to share with friends, or more egregious, post online.<hl> And the user whose profile was shared is not alerted or aware of this breach in his data.

But even if you're chatting with the most trustworthy people, there are some potential risks to take into account. <hl>The unfortunate reality is that many dating apps have experienced data breaches and are continuously sharing data with third parties.<hl> We mentioned the risk of linking the dating app profile to your social media accounts, but what happens when this dating service provider has many affiliates? This could mean that your data is  shared with third parties and used for other things than finding you the perfect partner (for example, retargeted marketing campaigns).

And the online dating industry has seen its fare share of privacy scandals. If you look at the dating industry’s history, you can see that most of the popular dating apps experienced some sort of data privacy scandal or data breach.

To name a few examples:

  • Tinder - a data breach resulted in 70,000 photos of female users found online (2020).
  • Grindr - facing millions of dollars in fines over privacy breach (2021) that exposed over 3M users’ private messages to other users, their profile information, and their locations. It has also been made public that Grindr sells HIV status data to third parties.
  • OkCupid - a range of dangerous flaws put 50M users’ data at risk (2020), allowing hackers to conduct hostile actions, like manipulating user profile data and sending messages from users’ accounts, all without them knowing.
  • Ashley Madison - all user data has been stolen and made public (2015) with severe consequences to its users and their families with even suicides as a consequence. Years later, some of these users still deal with the repercussions. 

Don't give up on matches made in internet heaven

We know that some of the greatest love stories of our times were hatched entirely digitally, and <hl>you should consider if you’re getting enough value from an online service to be sharing your data with them.<hl>

The need for dating apps for most of us comes and goes, and while you may delete the apps from your phone or deactivate your account, this does not mean that your personal information was returned safely to you.

But there’s no need to panic, or be lonely on Valentine’s Day. Because you can enjoy dating apps while still minimizing your online risks. <hl>We now have more options than ever before to manage our digital information online with the increasing awareness of data privacy and regulations such as the GDPR and CPPA.<hl>

By using online platforms such as Mine, online daters can now find love (using dating apps), while knowing that once they finish swiping or find their match, they can easily take back all their data from these apps or websites and keep a lean digital footprint.