Scroll To Top
Sex & Dating

Grindr Shared Users' HIV Status With Other Companies

Grindr Releases HIV Status & Location Of Its Users To Companies

The company has stated it will no longer share the HIV status or other personal data of its users.

According to a new report from BuzzFeed News, the hookup app Grindr has apparently been sharing its users’ HIV status to two other companies, Apptimize and Localytics, which will use the info to help optimize other phone apps.

Apptimize and Localytics have collected data from over 3.6 million Grindr daily active users. Part of that information includes HIV status, the last date they were tested, email, GPS data, phone IDs, even the tribe they identify as: bear, twink, jock, etc.

“The HIV status is linked to all the other information. That’s the main issue,” researcher at the Norwegian nonprofit SINTEFF, Antoine Pultier, told BuzzFeed News. “I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status.”

While Grindr has been actively pushing for HIV prevention and education by displaying adds for HIV testing sites, some activists are doubtful the company cares about its users’ privacy.

James Krellenstein, of AIDS advocacy group ACT UP New York, told BuzzFeed News, “Grindr is a relatively unique place for openness about HIV status. To then have that data shared with third parties that you weren’t explicitly notified about, and having that possibly threaten your health or safety — that is an extremely, extremely egregious breach of basic standards that we wouldn’t expect from a company that likes to brand itself as a supporter of the queer community."

Cooper Quintin, senior staff technologist and security researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, added, “It allows anybody who is running the network or who can monitor the network — such as a hacker or a criminal with a little bit of tech knowledge, or your ISP or your government — to see what your location is. When you combine this with an app like Grindr that is primarily aimed at people who may be at risk — especially depending on the country they live in or depending on how homophobic the local populace is — this is an especially bad practice that can put their user safety at risk.”

Since the report surfaced, Grindr announced late on Monday that it would stop sharing the data of its users with third-party analytics companies. 

In response to the initial report, however, Grindr Chief Technology Officer Scott Chen said in a statement: “Thousands of companies use these highly-regarded platforms. These are standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem. No Grindr user information is sold to third parties. We pay these software vendors to utilize their services.”

On Grindr, users have an option to display their status publicly or leave it blank. There’s even an “undetectable” selection as well as a “negative and on PrEP” option. While they set up their account, they click through a privacy policy that says “if you choose to include information in your profile, and make your profile public, that information will also become public.”

Given that Draconian laws against people living with HIV are still active in certain states, access to one’s HIV status is making people feel at risk for losing their job — like Chris Taylor from Seattle, who no longer displays his status because “it can put people in danger, and it feels like an invasion of privacy.”

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

David Artavia