On Monday, Buzzfeed News revealed that gay dating app Grindr was allegedly sharing the HIV status of users (and location data) with third parties. Although it wasn’t clear whether or not the data sharing was intentional, the revelation of such information presented far-reaching implications, including upon users’ professional lives. Amid a burgeoning uproar, Grindr quickly responded with an admission on their Tumblr blog, and shortly after, they made the decision to stop sharing this data altogether.
The company’s initial statement included an explanation of how Grindr does share user data with Apptimize and Localytics, mainly for the purposes of platform testing. At times, Grinder says, this data included HIV status, but the company insists that this information is shared only in encrypted form and is never sold to any advertisers or third parties. (That last tidbit was likely a move to differentiate itself from Facebook, which Mark Zuckerberg recently defended in terms of selling data as part of the business model.) In addition, Grindr pointed out that they don’t force anyone to include HIV data in their profiles:
However, Axios later reported that Grindr rethought the situation and decided to stop including HIV statuses within the data they share with third-parties. Grindr security chief Bryce Case told Axios that he believes the company has been “unfairly … singled out,” but Case also understands that the data privacy is a major concern with continuing fallout over the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal. As such, Case stated, “User trust is paramount.”