What Dating Apps Really Do With Your Information

Swiping right or left is easy. So is mindlessly entering in your personal information into a dating site as you mentally go through what photos you plan on showcasing. Yes, technology has made it almost seamless for us to meet that special someone. So seamless that we have almost forgotten what we are giving away in order to find a match.

To start, the information about yourself you may have plugged in while creating your profile is now available for the dating app to keep. That information may contain your age, sex, where you live, and religious and political beliefs (via Vox). Depending on your privacy comfort level, this may sound acceptable or unnerving so far. But brace yourself if you already fall into the category of unnerved. Because you may feel only more exposed from here.

The amount personal information you divulge when you sign up to a dating platform through your social media is alarming! In fact, A journalist with The Guardian recently requested all the information the dating platform Tinder had on her, and she was shocked to receive nearly 800 pages of details about herself that the company had gathered. The information included her Facebook "likes," locations of where conversations happened, and the age rank of men she was most interested in (via The Guardian).

It's not just an easy sign-in method

Olivier Keyes, a data scientist at the University of Washington, is not surprised. "I am horrified but absolutely not surprised by this amount of data," he said. "Every app you use regularly on your phone owns the same [kinds of information]. Facebook has thousands of pages about you" (via The Guardian). So be careful when linking one of your social media accounts to a new dating site. It may appear like it is just giving you an easy sign-in method, but at what cost?

We know that dating sites and apps may have more information than we thought about us, our pasts, and our preferences. And what is even more unsettling is that they may be sharing this information. Previously, the popular dating platform, Grindr, revealed it allowed outside companies to study the app's usage and, upon doing so, allowed them to obtain information concerning its users' HIV statuses (via Vox). This is no longer allowed, but the damage done to those who were outed because of this security breach is irreversible.

Consider how your information can be used against you

A dating platform may be gathering and potentially sharing your information. But, if you are like many others who are not terribly squeamish at the idea of them knowing more about you, consider the ways it can be used against you. Jo O'Reilly, a data privacy expert at ProPrivacy warns, "You're putting information out there that people can use against you. Whether it's hackers or predators, a cybercriminal can use that information to send you a phishing email, and you can fall for it," she said. In addition, "For women, you're putting information out there like addresses and phone numbers that can make you vulnerable to stalkers" (via Tech Xplore).

Many are at risk. In fact, it is reported that nearly 30 percent of adults living in the U.S. have tried a dating platform at one point in their lives (via Vox). So before you even consider swiping left or right, take a moment to evaluate the information you are potentially making public. And review the company's privacy policy before checking that box.