Grindr sold user data to ad networks for years

Between 2017 and 2020, Grindr sold user location data to advertisers, among other things. In some cases, this made it possible to trace the identity of members. Reportedly, these historical records would still be up for sale.

That writes the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal on the basis of insiders.

Identify Grindr Users

According to the newspaper, location data, age and gender of users were offered on online auction platforms, among other things. Advertisers could bid on these dates here. The ad networks then used this information to serve members with personalized ads from nearby businesses.

Personal information such as names, residential addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses has not been sold to ad networks, according to The Wall Street Journal. But to find out the location of someone, this data is not necessary. Location data is sufficient for this: if someone often logs in at the same place, there is a good chance that the person in question lives nearby.

The American daily cites a Catholic cleric as an example. At the end of last year, it became clear that he was using Grindr. It was possible to trace him on the basis of similar user data. In other cases, too, people were able to identify the identities of Grindr users. For example, if two smartphones were in close proximity for a longer period of time, it is obvious that a date is going on. Finally, location data can be used to map patterns, habits and routines.

Grindr shares less information with advertisers

Patrick Lenihan, a Grindr spokesperson, disagrees with The Wall Street Journal’s analysis. “Since early 2020, Grindr has shared less information with advertising partners than any of the major tech platforms and most of our competitors,” he told the paper.

Lenihan emphasizes that the dating app pays a high price for this: the ad quality has deteriorated and the revenues have declined. “The activities described would not be possible with Grindr’s current privacy practices, which we have been operating for two years,” he added.

Insiders tell the Wall Street Journal that historical data from 2017 through 2020 is still for sale. Grindr’s spokesperson could not confirm that.

Safe Dating with Grindr

Grindr is a dating platform targeting the LGBTIQ+ community. The goal is to offer men and women from this community a safe platform where they can chat and date with each other. Grindr has always presented itself as a community where people can be themselves without fear of reactions from those around them. Ideal for people living in countries where homosexuality is prohibited.

Grindr is not entirely risk-free. To get the most out of it, the dating app needs to know where you are at all times. For that, the app needs your GPS or location data. In theory, malicious people can misuse this information to arrange a date under false pretences and beat someone up. Something that happened more than once in the past in the Netherlands.

Some governments have exploited vulnerabilities in the app to track down and arrest gay residents. There are also examples of people creating fake profiles on Grindr in order to collect and distribute photos of local LGBTQ+ people in order to put them in a bad light.

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