Gay dating app Grindr had been sharing its users’ private data to two software companies, but later decided to stop sharing information on users’ HIV status, BuzzFeed reports.
Established in 2009, Grindr brands itself as a popular app for “healthy hookups and gay cultural content”. It has more than 3.6 million daily active users across the globe.
The app offers free ads for HIV-testing sites. Last week, it rolled out an optional feature that would remind users to get tested for HIV every three to six months.
Grindr had been sharing users’ HIV status and test dates with Apptimize and Localytics, two software companies that help optimize the app.
Antoine Pultier, a researcher at SINTEF, a Norwegian non-profit research organization, said the HIV information was sent alongside with user’s GPS data, phone number, and email address, so it was able to determine specific users and their HIV status, BuzzFeed said, citing SINTEF’s findings.
The independent Norwegian research organization was commissioned to produce a report on the findings by Swedish public broadcaster SVT, which first released the findings.
Grindr chief technology officer Scott Chen said in a statement that “thousands of companies” use the two companies and sharing information with those software companies is “standard practice in the mobile app ecosystem”.
“No Grindr user information is sold to third parties,” Chen stressed.
Chen also said the limited information shared with the software companies is carried out under “strict contractual terms” which offer the “highest level of confidentiality, data security, and user privacy”.
Users should “carefully consider” what information to provide in their profile, Bloomberg quoted Chen as saying in the statement.
However, hours after BuzzFeed came out with the report, Grindr put an end to its policy of sharing users’ HIV status with other companies, The Verge said, citing an Axios report.
Grindr’s head of security Bryce Case said he felt the company was being “unfairly… singled out”, noting that is practices didn’t depart from the industry norm.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 4
Translation by Jonathan Chong additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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