Grindr Has Been Sharing Users' HIV Status

Grindr, the popular gay dating/hookup app, has been sharing users' HIV status with other companies. According to Buzzfeed, Apptimize and Lacalytics, two companies that help optimize apps are the recipients of personal information of users of Grindr, users HIV status was just part of the information that was shared. Precise GPS location, phone ID, “last tested” date, sexuality, relationship status, ethnicity, tribe (gay slang for what gay subculture they identify as) and email were also all shared. Much of this information, excluding HIV status, was also shared with third party advertising companies.

For a company that prides itself as a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ community, the sharing of this super sensitive information sure seems like a bit of a betrayal. However,  Grindr has stated that putting information like HIV status on a users profile makes it public, and said that this is made clear in their privacy policy. Grindr allows users to optionally show their HIV status. The app offers users the options of negative, negative on PrEP, positive, and positive and undetectable. The sharing of this information, that comes attached with the other information, gives one the power to determine where and who users are.

While users may choose to show their status and make it public on Grindr, it is entirely different for an app to take that information and share it to other companies. While users may feel safe sharing their status with members of their community on the app, many would not feel that same way in regards to companies knowing their status. Many ads can be found on the app encouraging users to know their status and get tested regularly. “Get tested” and “Know your Status” messages also appear in users inboxes from time to time. Grindr has worked on becoming a “healthy hookup” site and with its focus on trying to convince users to know their status it comes as a shock that they would share users personal information.

Since the original release of the news that Grindr has been sharing HIV status, they have stopped sharing that information with other companies. Hopefully this makes it clear that while one may choose to display their personal information on a dating profile, it does not make it acceptable to sell that information to third parties. A breach of trust like this is extremely harmful to an already targeted commuity.

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