Apr 02, 5: Grindr Grindr, a gay dating app, will stop sharing users' HIV statuses with third parties after a report disclosed that the company passed the information on to two vendors. The West Hollywood company's policy change came after a BuzzFeed report Monday that said personal data was being passed to two outside vendors hired by Grindr to test the performance of its app.
Advertisement The report comes at a time of heightened anxiety about digital privacy because of the data misappropriation scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that received unauthorized data from millions of Facebook users through an outside app developer. Grindr's vendors, Apptimize and Localytics, are fed user data that includes HIV statuses, GPS data, phone numbers and e-mail addresses that, when combined, could expose someone's private health information, researchers told BuzzFeed.
In response to an outcry Monday, Grindr will stop sharing users' HIV status to outside vendors, according to someone close to the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The policy change was first reported by Axios. In a separate statement Monday, Grindr said it would never sell personally identifiable information to third parties, including advertisers. Apptimize and Localytics — services that help Grindr test features on its platform — are under contract to safeguard user privacy and security, the company said.
It also allows users to list their latest HIV test date. That information is aimed at informing potential sexual partners, the company says. Grindr helped pioneer a fast and location-specific approach to dating that lets users quickly vet prospective partners who are nearby.
Since its launch in , Grindr has expanded from a hookup app to a broader digital platform advocating for LGBTQ issues. Grindr sold a majority stake of its company last year to Kunlun Group Limited, a Chinese gaming company. Grindr's founder, Joel Simkhai, stepped down as chief executive after Kunlun purchased the remaining stake in the company in January. But outside major urban centers, the stigma for HIV-positive people can be much more difficult.
It's a breach of privacy. Cambridge Analytica obtained the unauthorized data from a psychology professor who built a quiz app for Facebook. The professor gleaned information from the nearly , people who downloaded his app and millions of their friends. He passed that information to Cambridge Analytica despite rules from Facebook that prohibit sharing data with third parties. Localytics said it does not share Grindr user information with third parties. Apptimize did not respond to a request for comment.
Grindr says it has since fixed the flaw and shut down the website, which allowed users to see who blocked them on the app. In , a hacker in Australia posed as other users on Grindr after identifying a security flaw. The hacker posted information on how to exploit the flaw before Grindr fixed it.