' Michael Goodyear | MTTLR

Swipe Right for Privacy

The mobile application market is flooded with dating apps: Tinder, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Bumble, and dozens more. They might make love happen, but they also risk more than just a bad date. The sheer amount of data these apps collect about users is staggering. After the giant Facebook data breach last Friday, it is time for a closer look at the privacy risks and lack of protection for dating app users. Some areas of the app universe, such as health apps, have begun to be regulated at the state and federal levels due to the highly sensitive nature of the data that is plugged into them. Yet overall the regulation of mobile apps is still the Wild West. There are usually legal claims available against individuals who share a user’s information without his or her permission. For example, in a California case, there was a whole website dedicated to posting private images of former significant others for extortion. The court convicted the website owner on over 30 counts of unlawfully using private information. It is much harder to go after the social network itself—yet social networks are the larger threat to our privacy. An individual is limited to misusing the information a user makes available to him or her. The social network not only has the information you make available to it, but also compiles further information about you through algorithms. When one journalist asked the popular dating app Tinder for access to her personal data, she was greeted with an 800-page dossier on her dating interests, past conversations, information from her other social media accounts, and...