12 min read
In the quarantines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic , many internet users turned to dating apps to find a romantic partner, whether for one night or a lifetime (or to have someone to talk to while we regain our routine) .
However, dating apps are not used like “normal” social networks for an extended period of time. So what happens when you exit Tinder , Grindr, or Bumble when you close them? What private data do these platforms collect?
In this regard, the cybersecurity firm Avast , warned in a statement that “if you have used an online dating site or application, you have given them a lot of information.”
Sites like OkCupid and Match.com are very open about the personal data they collect because they do a questionnaire to help you find a partner. But platforms such as Tinder and Grindr collect information in the “background”, that is, without the user knowing it since they use algorithms and artificial intelligence to find you a match .
“Artificial intelligence is a buzzword,” Jen Caltrider, principal investigator for Mozilla’s * Privacy Not Included guide, tells Avast. “It’s like this glowing ball that these companies are using for marketing. It’s fine for pet toys or something. But when you get into dating apps, you don’t know what’s being collected or why or how it’s affecting your way out. “
Many social platforms work on artificial intelligence in order to function and thus generate more users. But most importantly, according to Avast, to sell ads or share user information with third-party data brokers.
Also, these sites, like all, are not immune to security threats.
What data do online dating profiles collect?
Emma McGowan, a security expert at Avast, conducted an analysis and came to the following conclusions:
What data does the Match Group collect (OkCupid, Match.com, Tinder, Hinge and PlentyOfFish)?
The Match Group is massive and encompasses nine sites and apps, including some of the most popular. Each service collects slightly different data to provide slightly different results. For example, Match.com is typically for people looking for a life partner, while Tinder is typically more for short-term dates, and the data they need to deliver these results is different. At a minimum, a Match Group site or app can be expected to know your gender, location, and sexual / romantic preferences.
What data does Grindr collect?
Grindr requests a lot of personal information , including the obvious (name, email, phone number, date of birth, HIV status, location, photos and videos) and the less obvious (technical information including user activity, hardware information and software, sensor and cookie activity, and “other tracking technologies”). And even though its user base is often vulnerable, especially in countries with anti-LGBTQIA + laws,Grindr doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to keeping all that information safe, at least under its previous owners. This is especially concerning considering how common nudity is in the app, which is not a problem in itself, but opens up the possibility of exposure. The new owners of Grindr have launched a new consent management platform in April 2020 that includes their data sharing practices and their data retention deadlines. The company has said that they are keeping the data for a shorter period of time, which is better news for users, since the less time photos and messages remain on a server, the less likely it is that someone unexpected will find them. .
What data do Jdate and ChristianMingle collect?
Jdate and ChristianMingle are two religion-centric dating sites owned by Spark Networks. Jdate is a dating site for Diaspora Jews looking to date other Jews and ChristianMingle is the same for Christians.
They also collect “sensitive” information, such as sexual preferences and experiences, political affiliations, religious affiliations, union affiliations, and “any biometric information they provide.” Then there are the specifics for appointments and payment. This includes date of birth, videos, password, billing information, credit card information, demographic information, place of work or education, personal interests and background, gender, age, Preference for age range of appointments, physical characteristics, personal description, life experiences, geographic location, and photos.
ChristianMingle has been around since 2001, which means that it is quite possible that the children of the people who met on the site are now there. In other words: they have a lot of user data, such as name, gender, date of birth, zip code, at least one photo, marital status, church attendance, occupation, if they want to have children, a description, interests, what the user is looking for, payment information, user behavior on the site, any content and metadata in photos and videos, and the content of messages.
What data does Bumble collect?
Bumble is another swipe app that was founded when one of Tinder’s co-founders parted ways with that company and formed her own, with the goal of meeting user needs. They collect the names of the users, at least one photo, the date of birth, sex, the type of connection they are looking for, occupation, education, if they are interested in dating during Covid, the city, the town of origin, exercise, zodiac sign, alcohol consumption, smoking, pets, what the user is looking for, if he wants to have children or not, religion, political position and the content of the messages.
What Happens To Online Dating Profiles When You Dumped Them? Do online dating profiles erase user data?
Unfortunately, the answer is not so clear. McGowan contacted all of the mentioned sites and apps and only received one response from the Match Group. Their representative referred to their “Privacy Principles,” which read: “Once you delete your account, it is no longer visible in the service. From there, we delete the information based on our legitimate interests, including requirements legal to retain data for litigation purposes and work to weed out bad actors and keep them off our platforms. “
When McGowan pointed out that this didn’t really answer his question, which was “What happens if someone leaves an account inactive?”, He got no response. And a closer read of the text that was sent to you doesn’t even really respond to what happens when someone deletes your account. Does Match still have all that data? Unfortunately, at this time it is not possible to definitively affirm either of the two.
If someone deletes their account, Grindr basically ejects everything about them after seven days : email address, phone number, display name, about me, age, height, weight, body type, position, ethnicity, Marital status, tribes, search info, Meet At info, tags, NSFW photo interest, gender, pronouns, HIV status, date of last STI test, profile picture, any linked social networks, location and ID of advertising.
Lastly, Bumble claims that it deletes user data from its systems within 28 days of its deactivation. But they say they retain any information they might need for legal purposes – how to comply with applicable law, resolve pending claims or disputes, prevent fraud or abuse on the platform – and say nothing about accounts that are left inactive. Although, like many of the other dating platforms, Bumble says that they only retain user data for as long as they legally need it and as permitted by law.
Can users delete their data on inactive dating sites and apps?
One of the best, and often the most difficult, ways to protect yourself online is to delete old accounts and, if possible, erase all the data that account has collected about you. But not everyone has the same rights.
“If a person lives in California, for example, they are protected by the CCPA and have a legal right to have all data erased. In Europe and the UK, they are protected by the GDPR and they also have that right. found elsewhere, you should also request that your data be deleted and see how they respond. Some companies will comply without hesitation, while you may have to defend your rights to others, “says Emma McGowan.
If a user is not sure which sites they have used in the past, they can follow these instructions on how to find old accounts or use a service like BrandYourself , which has a privacy tool that will contact old accounts associated with their address. email and request its deletion.