Dating Apps Know What You Did Last Summer

Social media shows our tendency to undertake a lot to get others’ attention and to turn our private life upside down and expose it for some likes and comments. The dating industry is happily using this thirst for attention to fulfill our deepest desires for love and romance and to gather a lot of our most intimate data.

It surely is quite surprising how much personal information dating profiles require for a complete profile. Imagine pairing the answers to questions about our sexual preferences with our name, workplace, credit card information and the content of our smartphones!

Online dating made its way not just into our bedrooms and love life, but also access our smartphone´s most precious data, including pictures, messages, and so forth. Their algorithms are evolving towards complex matching systems and soon will be self-improving by artificial neural networks.

A study by Datingroo reveals the amount of information dating apps have access to.

Datingroo analyzed the UK´s top 10 dating apps and revealed their results in a detailed study. Their conclusions range between not quite surprising and very concerning.

So how do we keep such data leeches in check and how much do they really know about us?

Some apps are allowed to log in to our social media accounts and to even change them.

Most of the tested apps can locate us, see our network connection, our messages and access our USB-storage. By this means they can peek not only at our most intimate pictures and videos but also read our messages, contacts and even turn the device´s camera on.

The summarized results of Datingroo´s study on smartphone data access:

  • 100% of the tested apps request access to photos, media, and files stored on the smartphone
  • 90% can modify and even delete content in the internal storage
  • 80% access the phone´s location and wifi-connection
  • 70% access contacts and accounts
  • 60% know the identity of the user, their camera and phone status
  • 50% of the apps have accessibility to the devices ID and call information
  • 30% gain control over the microphone and can record audio files from it
  • 10% are even allowed to send and receive SMS from the smartphone

By this means, we already give dating apps a lot of our intimate information by agreeing to their terms and conditions. One internal security gap can expose almost every piece of information stored on our smartphone.

“Apps such as Tinder are taking advantage of a simple emotional phenomenon;

we can’t feel data. This is why seeing everything printed strikes you.

We are physical creatures. We need materiality.”

– Luke Stark for The Guardian in “I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets

It´s worrying what amount of personal information is required by some registration forms apps tend to let us fill out about our most private information. They ask for our sexual desires, our level of income, even for the number of children you have and other stuff you probably wouldn´t share with strangers. Remember, this is in combination with your location, workplace, age and maybe even credit card information.

Dating Apps are able to combine all given information into a collection of your official and private data

Some dating and matrimonial companies can link the mentioned information to your Facebook profile, your Gmail or other accounts. In combination with your credit card data, they have almost a complete profile of your data. This profile can contain your full name, address, and workplace. These companies can furthermore get sensitive information when you register with them about your love life and personal traits.

At this point we need to ask ourselves, are we doing enough to secure our most vulnerable data? To understand how dating sites cope with our most precious and sensitive information, we take a look into the recent history of dating site leaks.

In the last decade at least 6 major dating services were hacked or revealed the personal information of millions of users accidentally. Ashley Madison alone lost 25 GB of personal user data to a leak in 2015.

An enormous leak of an estimated 42 million users was discovered just recently in 2019 on an unsecured Chinese database. Although these profiles were leaked on one database, they belonged to a bunch of different dating services officially run by separate companies.

So how can we prevent such major data leaks impacting our intimate information?

Check out our advice on keeping your online dating adventure safe and sound:

  1. Make sure your dating provider is using an SSL-certificate to protect your data at a maximum technical level
  2. Don´t link your dating profile to your actual social media accounts if you are exposing sensitive details there. Instead, create a Facebook account just for dating or a Gmail-account without giving your personal information
  3. Don´t provide your real name, address, workplace, exact birthday or other data that can be linked to your dating account just from a quick search in Google, LinkedIn or social media
  4. Don´t show or send any Pictures that can be used against you or make you vulnerable in any situation. Keep the latest celebrity leaks in mind as an example
  5. Third-party ads or services are usually not covered by the terms and conditions of the dating site, so check the trustworthiness of any external link before clicking it
  6. Be aware of scammers who can try to lure you and ask for sensitive information under false claims

Keeping these suggestions in mind you can dive happily and safely into the wide and fulfilling ocean of online dating services. Enjoy a great adventurous time finding everything you ever desired.

This content is sponsored by Sheldon White.

Photo: Shutterstock