Grindr and Bumble are some of the most data-hungry dating apps out there, while Hinge could be a match if you’re looking for privacy.
The ease and convenience of finding a romantic partner on a dating app often comes at the cost of personal data, which users “pay” to their digital matchmakers. While it could be a swipe left for those who prioritize privacy, others accept it as a reasonable trade-off, either willingly or unknowingly.
To see what user data they collect and what they do with it, we’ve reviewed 10 popular dating apps based on their privacy practices disclosed on the App Store as part of Apple’s privacy requirements.
All of these apps collect your personal data – some more, others less. While most of that information is necessary to keep the app running, some could also be used for advertising and may even be shared with third parties, apps, and websites owned by other companies.
As it stands at the time of publishing, there are 35 types of data or privacy points that Apple requires developers to disclose if their app is – or may be – collecting. These include contact information like name or phone number, financial information like payments or credit, and user location. Some of the information that the apps may collect is optional, meaning that users do not have to provide it.
Developers are also required to list data that the app links to the user. According to Apple, such data is collected in a way that is linked to user identity, such as their account, device, or details like phone number.
All of the reviewed apps disclosed that they collect data, which they link to user identity. Apps can also identify data they collect but do not link to user identity – four out of the list did just that.
“To declare that data is collected but not linked to you, a developer must use privacy protections such as stripping any direct identifiers, for example, user ID, before collection, and avoid practices such as linking the data back to your identity after collection,” Apple guidelines read.
Finally, six out of 10 apps said they collected some data that could be used to track users across apps and websites owned by other companies or shared with a data broker.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, all noted they collected information about the user’s photos and videos, as well as sensitive information such as sexual orientation.
Sensitive information may also include details about racial background, disability, religious beliefs, or even trade union membership. Luckily, none of the apps said they shared this sensitive information with third parties, even though all linked it to user identity.
Below is the list of 10 popular dating apps based on how much data they collect, ranked from the most data-hungry to the least.
Grindr - 23 collected, 2 tracked
A staple on the lock screens of many a gay man, Grindr is the undisputed leader among dating apps catering to the LGBTQ community.
Launched 15 years ago, Grindr says it is the “best and easiest” place for gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and those exploring their sexuality to meet new people for friendships, hookups, dates, and more.
According to the information provided to the App Store, Grindr may collect 23 points of data about its users for various reasons, including app functionality, analytics, and advertising. This makes it the most data-hungry dating app on this list.
Grindr is also one of the few that indicates it may collect health-related data. It says users have the option to include self-reported health statuses within the app, but nothing is collected from the user's device. Similarly, it says that the search history data only refers to searches within the app that allow users to "filter" other users.
The app links all of the collected data to user identity. It tracks two types of data, namely device ID and advertising data, which it can share with other companies.
Bumble - 22 collected, 4 tracked
Bumble, another popular dating app, promises “unprecedented standards for respectful behavior” where women make the first move. Evidently, this requires a lot of user data that the app not only collects but may also share with third parties.
The app is second on the list of the most data-hungry dating apps, indicating that it may collect user information across 22 data categories. All of the collected data is linked to user identity and used for analytics, third-party and own advertising, product personalization, and app functionality.
Bumble also tracks user data in four categories, namely, coarse location, email address, device ID, and advertising data. All could be shared with apps and websites owned by other companies.
Badoo - 21 collected, 7 tracked
Rounding up the top three of the most data-hungry dating apps is Badoo, where “it pays to be the real, unapologetic you.” What it offers is similar to other dating apps, including “straightforward swiping” and matching with people based on location.
According to the App Store, Badoo may collect 21 types of data that it links to user identity to keep the app functional, as well as for its own and third-party advertising.
It is also among the apps that track the most user data. Badoo users could expect their data across seven categories shared with third parties, including precise location, coarse location, email address, device ID, advertising data, other user contact data, and other data types.
Raya - 20 collected, 0 tracked
On the members-only Raya, prospective users have to apply and will be put on a waitlist. Once accepted, users will be offered to purchase a one-, six-, or 12-month auto-renewing membership to a “private” community.
According to Raya, the app does not track users, meaning their data may not be shared with third parties.
It still collects 20 types of data about its users that it links to their identity for app functionality and product personalization reasons, as well as analytics and own advertising.
Her - 18 collected, 4 not linked, 8 tracked
Her, another LGBTQ-focused app on the list, is geared towards queer, lesbian, and bisexual women, as well as transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. It says it has more than 13 million users and is “the world’s most loved LGBTQ+ dating and community app.”
It is also an outlier on the list in that it may use much of the data it collects to track users.
Out of 14 data types collected and linked to user identity, eight may be shared across apps and websites owned by other companies, including purchase history, precise location, coarse location, email address, phone number, user ID, device ID, and advertising data.
Overall, Her collects 18 different types of data for various purposes, but four of those are not linked to user identity, namely, crash data, performance data, other user data, and other diagnostic data.
Plenty of Fish - 17 collected, 2 not linked, 0 tracked
Plenty of Fish, an app from the Dallas-based Match Group portfolio, which also includes Tinder and Hinge, promises personalized experiences when it comes to online romance – from “spicy dating games” to live streaming and “good-old-fashioned DM.”
The app also allows users to restrict first message count to avoid one- or two-word intros. In terms of privacy, it collects 17 types of data about its users. Of those, two are collected but not linked to user identity, which is advertising data and performance data.
According to the privacy practices provided by Plenty of Fish, the app does not track its user data, meaning it should not be shared with other companies.
OkCupid - 16 collected, 3 tracked
OkCupid, another Match Group app, says it “shows off who you are beyond a photo.” It uses an algorithm to pair up people based on their answers to specific questions on the app, as well as shared interests.
OkCupid tracks its users’ purchase history, device ID, and product interaction, which may be shared with other apps and websites. Overall, the app collects 16 different data types, which it links to user identity.
The app says it uses most of the data it collects for its own advertising and marketing, analytics, app functionality, and product personalization, as well as third-party advertising.
Tinder - 16 collected, 0 tracked
Tinder, the pre-eminent dating app that claims to have made 70+ billion matches to date, is also less interested in hoarding user data than some of its peers.
It collects 16 types of data that it links to your identity, which it mainly uses for analytics, product personalization, and app functionality.
Some of that data is also used for third-party advertising, as well as the app’s own marketing, but none of the information collected by Tinder is shared with third parties, according to the terms and conditions.
Match - 15 collected, 3 not linked, 1 tracked
Match, owned by its namesake Match Group, markets itself as the app for those who are searching for a “serious” relationship. Users can chat and meet locals online – or attend a singles event.
While it is not as flashy as some of its rivals on this list, Match is also less intrusive when it comes to user data. Out of the 15 data points it collects about its users, the app only links 12 of them to their identity.
Product interaction data, crash data, and performance data are collected but not linked to user identity. It only tracks one type of user data – device ID.
Hinge - 14 collected, 2 not linked, 0 tracked
Among major dating apps, Hinge may be the best choice for privacy-minded individuals. It collects user data across 14 types of data, which it says it only uses to improve the app’s performance and for its own marketing purposes.
It links most of the data it collects to the user identity, except for crash data and performance data, which are not linked. The app does not track user data.
Hinge markets its app as being “designed to be deleted,” which might have convinced enough potential users for it to become the fastest-growing dating app in the US, UK, and Canada in 2022.
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