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Tinder and Your Privacy

Are you single and ready to mingle? Tinder is a wildly popular dating app. In fact, the app has been downloaded more than 100 million times, gets more than a billion daily swipes, and has made 10 billion matches. Sounds like it’s pretty successful, right?

However, before you dive into the world of Tinder, you need to pause to think about your privacy. Recently, security concerns have arisen regarding Tinder. How can you protect yourself?

Privacy Hasn’t Always Been Tinder’s Priority

In 2013, a developer in the Netherlands found that Tinder users could gain each other’s contact information, including their email address and Facebook information, even if the users weren’t interested in each other. Tinder’s CEO responded promptly, thanking the developer for pointing out the flaw and stating that the issue had been fixed.

Tinder has also experienced problems in more recent times. In 2016 in Europe, a Belgian socialist and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) issued claims that Tinder’s terms of use violated Europe’s privacy laws. He asserted that the company stored and used data from Tinder members even after accounts had been deactivated. The MEP stated, “When you register on [Tinder], the company can do what it wants [with] your data: show, distribute to anyone or even change [it]. The lack of transparency should not be the rule!” Other apps, including Runkeeper, faced similar accusations.

Other issues surround Tinder. A Forbes article from May 2017 told the story of a developer who mined Tinder for tens of thousands of photos, which he then used in his efforts to hone an artificial intelligence program he was working on. Forty thousand photos were made available for public download. The datasets were downloaded hundreds of times before they were removed from the public domain.

Protect Yourself on Tinder

Do the above horror stories mean you should stop using Tinder altogether? No. You can still enjoy meeting other people on Tinder, but you need to take a few simple precautions while you do.

Safeguard Your Facebook Account

Tinder connects directly with your Facebook profile and uses it to provide information and pictures to your potential suitors. Therefore, to protect your privacy on Tinder, you need to protect your privacy on Facebook. Be sure you:

  • Check your Facebook security settings. If you have any questions about how Facebook security settings work, do research so you understand all your options.
  • Be cautious about what you post publicly. It might be OK to post some things publicly, such as funny jokes or internet memes, but make sure you keep personal information among the friends you trust.
  • Know what is on your profile. Tinder doesn’t just use your photos; it also uses your listed interests to match you up with people. Make sure your interests are up to date and don’t include anything that could embarrass you.
  • Remove photos you aren’t comfortable sharing. Whether it was a party where you had a little too much to drink or an outfit that would be better off forgotten, search through your profile and delete anything that could cause misunderstandings about your personality.

Don’t Meet Up With Just Anyone

Dating becomes much more real when your match steps off your smartphone and into that cute little restaurant where you’re having your first rendezvous. Before you make the leap to meet in person, do your research. Use a service such as Checkthem.com to do a background check on your date. You might uncover a criminal history or other unsavory information that makes you think twice before you meet someone face to face.

If you do decide to meet, take reasonable precautions. Get together in a public place, and tell a trusted friend what you’ll be doing so he or she can text you or call you partway through the date to make sure you’re all right.

Beware of Tinder Bots

One Tinder privacy issue that doesn’t always get a lot of attention is that of Tinder bots. Hackers create these bots, which send you automated responses in an attempt to get you to reveal personal information. You might be chatting with a bot if the person you’re talking to doesn’t really seem to be engaging with you; they might constantly be trying to steer the conversation in a different direction, a direction that would get you to hand over sensitive info.

Tinder bots also tend to respond very quickly. If you’re talking to someone who seems to be able to type an inhuman number of words per minute, it’s probably not a real person.

Try a Different Dating Website

No matter which dating site you use, you’re exposing yourself to the potential dangers of internet dating. However, if you want to try a site other than Tinder, you might check out:

  • Coffee Meets Bagel. This site focuses on helping women feel secure as they’re looking for love. It has a slower pace than Tinder, but the focus is on quality rather than quantity of matches.
  • Happn. This matches you with people you have been near in real life recently. It’s a fairly new app and is still getting some issues worked out, but it might be worth a look.
  • OKCupid. This has a Tinder-style Quick Match feature, as well as tons of other cool features.
  • Hinge. The great thing about Hinge is that it isn’t as random as other sites. It only lets you connect with friends, friends of friends, and third-degree friends. You’ll start your relationship with at least one person in common in your lives. Catfishing might be less likely to occur on this site.

Online dating is a huge industry, and in an age where people are too busy to explore other methods of meeting singles, it’s only going to get bigger. However, protecting your privacy while you’re looking for a relationship is vital. Be cautious about the information you share online, perform background checks on potential matches, and always listen to your gut if something doesn’t feel right about a situation. Happy swiping!

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