Grindr, the gay dating app with more than 3.6 million daily users worldwide, said it will stop sharing the HIV status of its users with other companies, Axios reported. Grindr made the decision late Monday after defending its information-sharing practices earlier in the day in response to a barrage of criticism following revelations that sensitive user data like HIV status was being shared.
Grindr security chief Bryce Case said many of the concerns with Grindr's data-sharing practices showed a misunderstanding of what was being shared and with whom. As originally reported by BuzzFeed, Grindr sent user profile information, including HIV status and test date, to Apptimize and Localytics, two companies that measure the performance of Grindr's products.
Grindr already deleted HIV data from Apptimize and was in the process of removing the information from Localytics, per CNN Money. The data sharing was discovered by researchers at the Norwegian nonprofit group SINTEF, which said the HIV data were encrypted. Grindr this year was fully acquired by Chinese gaming company Kunlun Group.
The revelation that Grindr shared sensitive personal data with third parties again brings up the key issue of informed consent, which also has recently dogged social network Facebook. Grindr at first defended the sharing of HIV data with Apptimize and Localytics by asserting that it is a public forum that gives users the option to post information about themselves, including HIV status and last test date.
Because the HIV information was sent with a Grindr user’s GPS data, phone ID and email, it could be used to identify specific users and their HIV status, SINTEF said. Improvements in medical treatment in the past 30 years have made HIV infection a manageable condition, but that doesn’t mean stigmatization and discrimination have disappeared. Revelations about the data sharing may make Grindr users wary of disclosing HIV status and promoting safer hygiene.