Twitter suspends Grindr from ad network after alleged privacy violations

Twitter has kicked Grindr off of its ad network after a report claimed the dating app was sharing users' personal data with marketers and advertisers. 

Grindr, which bills itself as "the world's largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people," uses Twitter subsidiary MoPub to share user data, according to the report from the Norwegian Consumer Council.

"We are currently investigating this issue to understand the sufficiency of Grindr's consent mechanism. In the meantime, we have disabled Grindr's MoPub account," Twitter said in a statement to CBS News. Grindr could not be reached for comment.

Widely used dating apps Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder are sharing users' personal information — including their locations, sexual preferences, drug use, political views and more — with analytics and marketing firms in an alleged violation of European privacy laws, according to the Norwegian Consumer Council.

CBSN Originals presents "Speaking Frankly: Dating Apps"

In some cases, the data collected is used to help marketers customize ads, but can also be used more nefariously — to discriminate, manipulate and exploit, the report claims.

"These practices are out of control, rife with privacy violations and breaches of European law, and highly problematic from an ethical perspective," according to the group.

OkCupid, owned by Match Group, shares "highly personal data" with Braze, an analytics company, and Tinder, also a Match Group company, sends users' gender preferences to AppsFlyer, another analytics company, according to the NCC.

Match Group said in a statement to CBS News that both apps "use third party providers to assist with technical operations and providing our overall services, similar to all other apps and online platforms."

It does not use its members' personal data for advertising purposes, a company spokesperson said. 

The council commissioned security firm Mnemonic to analyze data traffic from 10 popular apps, none of which allowed users to "make an informed choice" about how their data would be used upon downloading the apps.

The apps assign users serial numbers — personal identifiers that feed data into internal profiles that include detailed information about individuals "personalities, predispositions and secret desires," the report found. 

How are dating apps changing relationships?

The Norwegian council on Tuesday said it filed complaints against Grindr and five ad tech companies for violating European data protection regulations.

In 2018, Grindr said it shared its users' HIV status with two companies before ending the practice.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue

We and our partners use cookies to understand how you use our site, improve your experience and serve you personalized content and advertising. Read about how we use cookies in our cookie policy and how you can control them by clicking Manage Settings. By continuing to use this site, you accept these cookies.