Online dating is more popular than ever, and Tinder is at the top of the list. It’s estimated that 50 million or more smartphone users have downloaded the Tinder app. Despite its popularity, there are considerable privacy risks to using the dating app. In this article, we’ll discuss the privacy issues that Tinder users should know about and tips for protecting your privacy while using the app.
What Are The Privacy Risks Of Using Tinder?
Your Activity Can Be Monitored
Your activity on Tinder may not be as private as you think. A report by the cybersecurity company Checkmark mentions two major vulnerabilities in Tinder iOS and Android apps. Both of these vulnerabilities concern the issue of insufficient encryption. One issue is the app doesn’t use the secure HTTPS protocol to encrypt profile pictures. In addition, different data is sent from Tinder’s servers for left and right swipes.
As a result, while text such as names and personal information is encrypted, Tinder profile pictures are not. This means that it’s possible for hackers to monitor your activity and see which profile pictures you are looking at. They can do this by intercepting the traffic between your mobile device and the Tinder servers. In addition, hackers can use the data from Tinder’s servers to determine whether you swiped right or swiped left on a picture. In order for hackers to intercept your data, they need to be on the same Wi-Fi network as you, and public networks are most vulnerable.
While it’s unlikely that a hacker intercepting your Tinder data will result in identity theft, there are still consequences to the user that might result. This is especially true in countries with negative views on dating, homosexual relationships, and intimate relationships outside of marriage.
Other Users Can Find Your Location
Unfortunately, when using Tinder your location might be visible to other users. Tinder’s location processing data happens on the client side. The location data for matched users within a 25-mile radius gets sent to the users’ devices and is extremely accurate. A security vulnerability was uncovered in July 2014 regarding the way Tinder sent latitude and longitude coordinates to users’ devices. The vulnerability meant that anyone with basic programming knowledge could find your location coordinates. It also increased users’ risk of being stalked by predators who used the Tinder app.
Tinder fixed this vulnerability by replacing the coordinates with distance measures, making it more difficult though not impossible for users to uncover your location.
Tinder Stores Your Personal Data
In 2017, French journalist Judith Deportail requested that Tinder release her personal data and was shocked when Tinder sent her 800 pages of her personal information. Deportail’s case is not unusual since Tinder has vast amounts of data on all its users. The types of information Tinder acquires includes your location, Facebook likes, links to Instagram photos (even if the account has been deleted), Tinder conversations with matches, and how many Facebook friends you have.
It’s important to remember that when you are chatting with someone over Tinder, you are disclosing your information to the app in addition to the person you are talking with.
Your Tinder Activity May Be Visible on Facebook
If you decide to sign up with Tinder using your Facebook account, be aware that you will need to take steps to ensure your Tinder activity isn’t visible on Facebook. When you sign up for Tinder with Facebook, the app gets full access to your Facebook profile. It then pulls data from your profile to get your pictures, location, and interests to help match you up with people in your area. The downside of this integration is that you might accidentally reveal that you are using Tinder to all your Facebook friends. There’s also the risk that someone you met on Tinder will find you on Facebook and contact you there. If you sign up with Facebook, you will need to adjust your privacy settings to avoid this. Another option is to sign up for Tinder using your cell phone number.
How can you protect your privacy on Tinder?
Given all the possible breaches of privacy that can occur with Tinder, what can you do to protect your privacy? There are a variety of steps you can take to help conceal your location and identity on Tinder. Here are some of the most important ones:
It’s important to consider the consequences before posting anything online or in dating apps. Even if you don’t provide your full name or contact information, other users can still identify you by other means. For example, someone on Tinder could do a reverse image search to see if your picture appears anywhere else online. If you used Facebook to sign up for Tinder, someone easily could find your Facebook profile since Tinder pulls your profile picture from Facebook. To help protect your privacy, you should use a different picture for Tinder that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the internet. You should also avoid putting the name of your workplace or school on Facebook. In addition, avoid putting links to Instagram or your social media handles on your Tinder profile.
Use a Burner Facebook Account for Tinder
A popular way to keep your Tinder and Facebook profiles separate is to create an extra Facebook account that you only use for Tinder. This way you can use your burner Facebook account to access Tinder while having more control over your privacy. When signing up, use a temporary email address and use a nickname for your burner Facebook account. It’s also good to upload a few photos of yourself that don’t exist elsewhere online. By taking these precautions, you can to make it more difficult for someone you just met on Tinder to find you online.
Adjust Your Facebook Privacy Settings
Whether or not you opt to use a burner Facebook account, it’s important to adjust your Facebook privacy settings. The goal is to keep your Tinder matches on the online app and prevent them from contacting you over Facebook. The best way to do this is to go to your Facebook Privacy tab and change your settings to the following:
- Who can see your future posts? > Only Me
- Who can see your friends list > Only Me
- Who can send you a friend request? > Friends of Friends
- Who can look you up by your email? > Friends
- Who can look you up by your phone number > Friends
- Allow search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile > Uncheck the box
The next step is to click on the Tagging and Timeline tab in your Facebook settings. Change these options to the following:
- Who can post on your Timeline? > Only Me
- Who can see tagged posts on your Timeline? > Only Me
- Who can see what others post on your Timeline? > Only Me
- When you’re tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience? > Only Me
- Tag suggestions > No One
Taking these steps can help ensure that your Facebook profile won’t be visible to strangers.
Hide Your Tinder App From Facebook
Since Facebook allows integrations with many services including Tinder, you will need to take steps to hide your Tinder app from Facebook. If you want to conceal the fact that you are on Tinder from your Facebook friends, you need to go to your Facebook privacy settings and select “See more settings.” From here you need to choose Apps, locate your Tinder app, and press the “Edit” option at the right of the app. Navigate to Visibility of Apps and Posts and select the “Only Me” option. This means that only you will be able to see your Tinder access.
While Tinder and other dating apps are extremely popular, these apps also pose a risk to your privacy. Vulnerabilities in the Tinder app can result in hackers to spying on your activity, or other Tinder users figuring out your location. In addition, Tinder collects your personal data, and the app’s integration with Facebook can also result in a breach of your privacy. These are considerations that every Tinder user should know about. Although Tinder can access your data, by taking precautions you can protect your privacy to a certain extent when using the dating app.