Dating apps falling short on user data protection, Mozilla finds

In a recent study conducted by Mozilla, it was found that most dating apps are failing to uphold strong privacy practices and are collecting an increasing amount of user data, raising concerns about privacy and security. The study, which reviewed 25 dating apps, revealed that many of them are more data-hungry and intrusive than ever before.

Out of the 25 apps studied, a staggering 22 were labeled “Privacy Not Included” by Mozilla, indicating the lowest grade in terms of privacy protection. Only Queer-owned and operated Lex received a positive review, while Harmony and Happn received passable ratings.

According to Mozilla, a concerning 80% of the apps may share or sell users’ personal data for advertising purposes. For instance, apps like Bumble were found to have ambiguous privacy clauses that could potentially lead to the sale of user data to advertisers.

The report highlighted that a majority of apps, including popular ones like Hinge, Tinder, OKCupid, Match, Plenty of Fish, BLK, and BlackPeopleMeet, collect precise geolocation data from users. Apps like Hinge even collect location data in the background, even when the app is not in use, raising significant privacy concerns.

The insidious role of data brokers in the dating app ecosystem is also a cause for concern. While dating apps claim to collect data to improve matchmaking, the report warned that if this data ends up with data brokers, it could have serious consequences. For example, last year, it was reported that a U.S.-based Catholic group purchased data from Grindr to monitor some members, highlighting the potential misuse of sensitive data.

Zoë MacDonald, a researcher and one of the authors of the report, criticized dating apps for their predatory privacy practices, stating, “If dating apps think people are going to keep handing over their most intimate data without finding love, they’re underestimating their users.”

Despite the growing concerns over privacy, dating app downloads are slowing down, according to 

To attract potential users, dating app companies are turning to new technologies, including AI-powered features. Match Group has already announced plans to leverage AI, while Grindr is reportedly introducing an AI chatbot that could engage in sexually explicit language.

However, Mozilla raised concerns about the use of AI in dating apps, particularly regarding user privacy. Misha Rykov, a privacy researcher at Mozilla, emphasized the importance of protecting user data from exploitation as dating apps continue to collect more information.

Written by Jordan Bevan


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