Grindr, a gay dating and hook-up app, has reportedly provided its users’ HIV statuses to two outside companies.
Apptimize and Localytics, both data-optimization firms, have received certain information that some Grindr users choose to include in their profiles, including their HIV status and “last tested date.”
Antoine Pultier, a researcher who discovered Grindr’s data sharing and spoke with BuzzFeed News about it, said that other information provided to the two companies including GPS data, phone ID and email, could allow the companies to identify specific individuals with HIV.
“The HIV status is linked to all the other information. That’s the main issue,” Pultier told BuzzFeed. “I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status."
Grindr has 3.6 million daily users, almost exclusively gay men.
“Grindr is a relatively unique place for openness about HIV status,” said James Krellenstein, a member of AIDS advocacy group ACT UP New York.
“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."
Grindr defended its practice, saying that HIV data is not sold to Apptimize and Localytics and that the companies are used to help its app.
"Thousands of companies use these highly-regarded platforms. These are standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem,” Grindr Chief Technology Officer Scott Chen told BuzzFeed in a statement. “No Grindr user information is sold to third parties. We pay these software vendors to utilize their services.”