4 things Tinder knows about you

Discover what the dating app Tinder knows about you and how criminals can use your data to improve their scams and cyber attacks.

Every swipe you make, Tinder is watching you

No matter how much you know about Tinder, you may be shocked by what Tinder knows about you.

Using any kind of social media always requires us to make a complex series of privacy trade­offs. This is especially true for dating apps.

For those seeking a romantic match, presenting your authentic self on your profile makes sense. But the challenge is to do this without over­sharing and letting these services know more about you than you should. Like­wise, you want your potential matches to share enough so you can at least figure out if that person is an axe murderer before you go on a date.

Still, the amount of data Tinder has on its users is staggering.

In 2017, The Guardian’s Judith Duportail requested her personal data from the app under the Europe’s data protection law. She received 800 pages including all her Face­book likes, the age of every­one she was interested in dating, and the time, date and location data for every conversation she had with her matches.

Putting your­self out there on any dating app is risky, no matter how locked down your privacy may be. And since dating strangers has the potential to get complicated, you should at least have a sense of what Tinder and users of Tinder may know about you. Here we reveal four things Tinder knows about its users.

1. Tinder knows every­thing you do on Tinder

Every match. Every swipe. Every conversation. Tinder knows every­thing you do on Tinder.

You may not mind this, because how the app uses this data to fuel its algorithm has helped make it such a smashing success. The app reflects your tastes by letting you easily swipe approval or dis­approval of any potential match it gives you. And by learning your preferences, Tinder should provide you a better experience.

But it doesn’t just use that information to make your experience on the app better.

In 2020, the Norwegian Consumer Council accused Tinder and other popular dating apps of improperly selling private consumer data to third-parties to improve advertising targeting.

2. Tinder knows what you share through connected Face­book or Instagram profiles

If your Tinder account is linked to your Face­book or Instagram, Tinder has access to all the public data you’ve shared on those apps.

Sharing data with Face­book has its own set of privacy concerns. So, if you actively use the world’s largest social network, you’re probably not overly worried about restricting access to your private data, given how much the site knows about you already. However, using the app for dating may spark your concerns.

An easy solution to limit access to your data is to use a dummy Face­book or Instagram account with an email account that you create just for use in dating. Then lock down your privacy settings on that account — and any Face­book account you use — to make sure you’re only sharing what you want to share.

The goal isn’t to deceive anyone but to maintain as much control as possible over your privacy. Want to know if your Face­book is currently connected to your Tinder? Check your Face­book Apps and Web­sites settings.

3. Tinder knows and may reveal information that could help a stranger find out more about you — possibly even your location

Share information about your­self carefully, whether in words or images.

The most identifiable thing on your profile is your picture. Cyber security experts suggest you use a photo on dating apps that you only use for dating purposes. Then that the photo can’t be ran through image searches to connect you to your real identity. Also, anything in the back­ground of your photos could help identify you.

Likewise, sharing the specific name of your job or employer makes you easily identifiable. That may be fine with you, but you should be aware of the potential risks of connecting your Tinder life to your real life.

While you want to give potential dates a sense of who you are, you may not want strangers to know exactly who you are. So consider that Tinder knows your exact location, which it uses to help it make matches. And while it doesn’t reveal this to other uses, they could conceivably get a good idea of your rough location by using the app to triangulate where you are.

4. Tinder knows you open your­selves to scams by opening your heart

Risk of personal harm isn’t the only potential danger of over­exposure on a dating app. Romance scams only trail investment scams as the most popular form of online fraud.

The recent Netflix hit documentary The Tinder Swindler presents the case of a man posing as diamond dealer who scammed potential partners into giving him loans, which he never intended to pay.

This extreme case of fraud should act as a reminder that all dating apps expose us to risks that are clouded by the strong emotions that come from new relation­ships. And no matter how secure or respectful of your privacy an app is, it cannot protect us from the mistakes we make in the fog of love or lust.

Even if you aren’t targeted directly by a potential scammer, you could be vulnerable to scams by online criminals who utilize the Tinder brand to make their attacks more effective. These criminals weaponize the tingle of a potential connection to improve the potency of their spam and phishing scams with fake emails, SMS messages and notifications.

That means that if you’re engaged in any sort of online dating at all, you should have your guard up and be sure to practice all the basics of good online security and identity protection even more diligently.

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