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.
“You want to share as much as possible to find your optimal mate,” said Janne Kauhanen, host of our Cyber Sauna podcast. “But you also don’t want to overshare and let these services know more about you than you want to.”
Likewise, you want your potential matches to share enough so you can at least figure out if he or she is a “crazy 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 where every conversation she had with every one of her matches.
Putting yourself out there on any dating app is risky emotionally, 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.
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 this why people use Tinder. The app reflects your tastes by letting you easily swipe approval or disapproval of any potential match it gives you. 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.
2. Tinder knows what you share through connected Facebook or Instagram profiles.
If your Tinder account is linked to your Facebook or Instagram, Tinder get access to all of the public data you’ve shared on Facebook, of course. Sharing data with Facebook has its own set of well-known 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 and how lax it appears to be in managing it. 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. The most identifiable thing on your profile is your picture. Cyber security experts suggest you use an image on dating apps that you only use for dating. 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 make you easily identifiable.
While you want to give potential dates a sense of who you are in reality, you may not want strangers to know exactly who you are. Consider that Tinder knows your exact location. This helps it make matches. And while it doesn’t reveal this to other uses, they could conceivably get a pretty good idea by using the app to triangulate roughly where you are.
When you know what Tinder knows about you, you can at least decide if you’re comfortable with the tradeoffs you’re making for love — or something resembling love.