A New York City resident is battling the makers of Grindr, a popular dating app for gay and bisexual men, after saying 1,100 suitors have come to his home and the restaurant where he works looking for a sexual encounter.
For the last five months, as many as 16 people a day have been arriving and “aggressively demanding sex” from Matthew Herrick, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by the West Harlem man’s attorneys.
An ex-boyfriend has been allegedly creating the fake accounts.
“My entire life has been stolen from me. My privacy has been taken from me. I’m humiliated daily,” Herrick said in an interview with Wired magazine. “It’s a living hell.”
Besides sharing photos and details about Herrick, some profiles reportedly claim he is HIV positive and that interested men should not be discouraged if he’s resistant because it’s “part of an agreed upon rape fantasy or role play.”
Herrick and his lawyers say Grindr shares some of the blame for offering a “dangerous product,” comparing the app to a car battery.
“If the manufacturer and seller both know the battery could explode, there’s a duty to inform users of the risk,” attorney Carrie Goldberg told CNN. “Not to mention a duty to evaluate whether the product is so dangerous it should be removed from the market altogether.”
Goldberg and Tor Ekeland are representing the part-time actor and model as they charge that Grindr is specifically responsible for product liability, fraud and deceptive business practices.
“Grindr does not use even standard, widely available software programs … routinely used by interactive service providers to control their sites and products and to facilitate the safety and security of their users and the public,” the complaint reads.
In response, Daniel Waxman of Bryan Cave LLP requested permission Friday to file a 30-page memorandum in support of Grindr’s motion to dismiss the complaint.
Besides maintaining that Grindr “cooperates with law enforcement” and features a “system of digital and human screening tools,” a statement from the company emphasized, “While we are constantly improving upon this process, it is important to remember that Grindr is an open platform.”
Herrick’s complaint claims over 100 reports were filed in the app notifying Grindr of the fake profiles yet the only reply received was a boilerplate message stating, “Thank you for your report.”
“They were setting him up to be sexually assaulted,” Goldberg told Wired. “It’s just luck that it hasn’t happened yet.”